Getting through tertiary study with minimal debt

office rental cabin

Jun 4, 2021

We all know the struggles of student life – pulling an all-nighter to submit an assignment at the last-minute and living on two-minute noodles because you spent all your money going out on the weekend.

Balancing tertiary study with “real life” responsibilities can be a challenge, particularly financially. Student allowances, student loans, part-time jobs all help, but the costs of tertiary study can add up.

The average student loan sits at $23,307 per person and a University of Auckland study says it can take over eight years to pay off.

We look at some of the ways you can keep your costs down on your journey through tertiary study.


This is probably the most important tip of all. Money as a student can be limited, and you run a serious risk of running out of cash without a budget. It’s important to know your expected costs before you need to pay them, so you can put money aside and avoid nasty surprises.

Student discounts

Many businesses around universities offer student discounts. Look for advertising outside the shop or in the window; if you don’t see it, ask if they do it. Even a 10% discount on $10 can add up. This extends to entertainment too, movie tickets, cheap dinner and drinks.

Many students will be eligible for the Community Services Card. It can help you with the costs of healthcare, as well as paying less on some health services and prescriptions.


Buy local! Believe it or not, it can be cheaper to buy fresh fruit and vegetables at local markets rather than the supermarket. Most towns have at least one weekend market and larger cities have several. You will also save money by buying New Zealand-grown produce when it’s in season and supporting local industry rather than splashing out on expensive imported produce. And at the supermarket look for home or budget brands and save.

Get online

Free WIFI! Your campus will likely have it in the library, cafes and your hall of residence. Use these as much as you can, especially if you are a Netflix subscriber, YouTube addict, or streaming fan.

Buy (and sell) second-hand

Textbooks! The class the year before used them and can be found. Similarly, don’t be sentimental about your books. They will likely serve you no purpose after your study. Sell them! You may have a wardrobe full of clothes that don’t get a lot of your attention. Consider having a clear out and selling them. And if you do buy, pre-loved is a way to go, with Trade Me a wonderland of cheap clothing and unique pieces.

Getting around

Do you need a car at uni? Transport costs can eat up a lot of your money. Some cities are easy to cycle around so it’s worth buying a (second-hand) bike to use while you’re studying. Many New Zealand cities are relatively small and very walkable. Even if you’re not used to walking, now is a good time to start! Or use public transport.


Probably the biggest cost for tertiary students is where to live. Halls of Residence offer a lot of study and social benefits, but they can cost between $10,000 – $15,000 per year which is a big investment. Flatting does not work out to be too much less if you factor in 12-month rental contracts and the costs of running a flat.

If you live in the city where you plan to study, it could be worth having a conversation with your parents – even paying board will be considerably cheaper than renting a flat or a hall as all your living costs are a fraction of what you’ll pay if you go it alone. ​

Enter the RoomMate Cabin

Renting a cabin from RoomMate Cabins, means you can create a comfortable bedroom, chill-out zone or study area, giving you privacy and independence from the safety of home.

Our portable cabins provide you with the means to give you a sense of independence if your family home doesn’t allow for it.

With more teens and young adults living at home longer with their parents, our portable cabins are a practical solution for your family if you need more space at your place.

If you’re looking for the versatility our portable cabins provide, make sure you contact your nearest RoomMate Cabins Supplier today.