How to Live on a Shoestring Budget…

A Red and Black Suzuki GSF 650cc Bandit 2005

So we’ve flown to the other side of the world all ready to start a new life for ourselves. We knew it was never going to be a walk in the park and are on a tight budget to keep ourselves afloat until our work visa’s come through. So I thought you may be interested in how to do this in a new country with some of my savvy saving tips on how to live on a shoestring budget…

1. D.I.Y Spannering

So when I arrived in the country my budget for buying another motorbike was just what I had made in England from my previous bike. Which in New Zealand terms, didn’t equivalate to a lot. Most bikes in my price range were 250cc or under. So you can imagine my delight when I came across ‘Bobby’, a 2005 Suzuki GSF 650cc Bandit with only 21,000km on the clock.

A Red and Black Suzuki GSF 650cc Bandit 2005

But he didn’t come without his problems. The poor bike was in a bit of a state with copious amount’s of rust, pitted, leaking forks and an array of other delightful issues. The owner also mentioned the bike had been sitting around for weeks and for an older bike, that really isn’t good. But I just couldn’t walk away from a bike in need that I knew would be worth saving.

As I had spent the majority of my budget on buying the bike, there wasn’t much wiggle room left. But a few basics were a must, especially as he didn’t come with any service records and from the jist I got, not had much work done on him. I haven’t done much servicing on bikes previously although I had tried to learn. But this time I didn’t have much of a choice as I simply could not afford pay out to have a service done.

From the delights of Google I managed to locate a service manual for my bike, which I downloaded. At the front of most service manuals, you will find a service timetable which shows when basic things need to be checked and maintained;

Suzuki GSF 650cc Bandit Maintenenace Schedule

I had to go on a whim and assume none of the 18,000km checks had been done. This meant I would need a new oil filter and oil change, plus a new air filter and to generally carry out the other basics shown on the list. Which are quite straight forward with a manual and actually were relatively easy to do once I got over the fear of doing it. This cut down costs hugely by cutting out the middle man, plus I gained the knowledge of how to do my own spannering. You can watch some of my hilarious and amateur motorbike maintenance videos here. I just can’t fathom why I didn’t do more before.

Oil change on a Suzuki GSF 650cc Badnit 2005 model

I then made sure I got a little notebook and wrote down all the work I had done (along with receipts of parts I bought), with the date and current mileage. Thus creating my own service manual in case I need to sell him in the future.

The only thing I didn’t feel confident enough to do was putting on new forks, which I can’t afford to do right now. But at least I could now ride the bike, even if I can’t ride very far.

2. Internet Usage

Now for someone who uses the internet as much as me with regular downloading and uploading for my blog, I had to find another place to do my work that didn’t use all of the in-laws data every month. And wasn’t going to cost me the earth in coffee!

Ladies and gentlemen let me re-introduce you to the out-dated, unused and forgotten oasis of the public library!

Truth be told I hadn’t thought much about going to the library and who does nowadays? But this place has literally been my sanctuary.


It cost me nothing to join up and I can use as much data as I like and do all the downloading to my hearts content. I can also rent out DVDs for as little as $1 per week (around 50p), yeah, yeah, DVDs!!!! I hear you cry. But on a budget these little sources of entertainment are heaven and saves you paying out for monthly subscriptions or the cost of the cinema.

The other major plus side is when it is 30c outside and everyone else is melting, the air-con inside the library is bliss!!! Yes I have definitely gained a new respect for the library.

3. Food, glorious food!

New Zealand’s grocery costs are huge and food in general is rather pricey. One thing that has always helped hubby and I save money in the grocery department, is meal planning.

Each week, we look at what is in our cupboards, freezers and fridges and plan what meals we will make for the following week and just buy any extra ingredients we need. Blind food shopping would cripple our budget as we just love to eat, plus I hate wasting food and this way nothing rarely goes in the bin.

Its also vital to find a reasonably priced supermarket. I know most people have their favourites, but the cost difference in some of these are just pure madness!!!

4. Picnics in the Park

No matter what your budget, finding time to spend with loved ones is crucial. This is article is how to ‘LIVE’ on a shoe string budget not just survive. One way we’ve done this is looking for free things to do in area. I then write all these ideas down on little bits of paper and pull a new one out every weekend. But do your research 1st and see what’s in your area.

We are near several lakes/parks here so picnics in the park are often a cheap day out, even just a walk along the lake with an ice-cream gives us that precious time-out.

Ice-creams in the park
Ice-creams at Hamilton Lake

There are also places like Hamilton Gardens which are free to use (they just ask for donations). The beach is also just an hour away and there are plenty of walks to be had in the hills that surround us.

Just don’t forget to pack a lunch and take your own drinks. There are often drinking water taps located in various locations.

Hamilton Gardens in New Zealand
Hamilton Gardens

5. A Class of Your Own

One thing I did want to start doing when I got here was to take up the practise of Yoga. Especially as I’m finding it hard to keep track of my weight because I am not doing much. Also to keep my mind clear whilst we adjust to the changes of slingshotting ourselves to the over side of the world.

I initially started watching beginner videos on YouTube which gave me a great insight to the different techniques and positions used. But on limited WIFI I couldn’t keep this up. However I had now gained a good insight in what to do and by using my free Spotify account for some relaxing music and Instagram for different poses, I was able to create my own classes.

So I try to now fit in 20/30 minutes most days to do my own classes, cutting out the expense. Although I do look forward to attending the occasional class once we are more settled.

**Look for community classes in your area which are often free and just requiring a small donation***

6. A Night in

It is hard when you can’t afford to go out. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make the most of it at home, you just need to be more creative….

Having a date night with your partner

(This is obviously much harder if you’re living with in-laws) But you can quite easily spruce up a regular night in with your other half with a lovely home cooked meal, few candles, chilled out music and a few beers or bottle of plonk. All finished off with a movie you’ve rented for a $1 from the local library! Seeing as you’ve saved yourself money from going to the pub or a fancy restaurant, why not throw in a dessert or nibbles to go with your movie!

7. One Man’s Junk is Another Man’s Treasure

Rob and I came to New Zealand with just a couple of bags of belongings and both needed a few more items of clothes and will need household items for when we get our own place. But buying brand new isn’t an option for us.

Back in England we had ‘charity shops’, little shops selling peoples no longer wanted/needed belongings. Here in New Zealand, we have ‘opportunity shops’, opp shops. They are much the same as England with one huge exception, the places here are like warehouses.

So there you have it in a nutshell my savvy tips on how to live on a shoestring budget. What do you do to try and save money whilst still trying to make a life for yourself? I’d love to hear your money saving ideas, feel free to comment below…

*Some links used in this article are affiliate links which when clicked and purchased gives me a small commission at no extra charge to you*

3 thoughts on “How to Live on a Shoestring Budget…

  1. Pak’nsave for el cheapos- but NOT meat products. High cost of food is due to distance and a small population. There’s less than a million people rattling around the South Island! The Op shops are definitely different from the UK, and cheaper. Libraries in NZ are a far cry from olde world, as you’ve found. Enjoy riding and exploring .


    1. Yes definitely cheaper at Pak’n Save and shopping at Op shops is a must. I think it’s all about living within your means and planning. I can’t wait to properly explore this beautiful country


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