As we come blinking into the spring from the long, dark days of Winter (except for you chaps down there in the Southern Hemisphere!), thoughts will be turning to getting out and about a bit more. Perhaps going to festivals, taking part in sporting events, meeting up with friends or travelling “back home”, whatever you chose to do it’s probably going to cost more money than winter’s hibernation did.
So, with the possible increase in daily expenses in mind, here are 20 money saving tips that expats around the world can easily use in daily life…
1. Switch banks
There’s hardly a bank in the world that’s offering a good interest rate, but many do offer some good deals for switching over to them. To find them use financial comparison sites such as USwitch in the UK or Tarifs Banquaire in France.
2. Review bank statements frequently
Every bank recommends that their clients review statements regularly, mainly to spot if there has been any fraudulent activity on the account. Once a fraudster has hacked an account, they will often siphon off a few small amounts to test the owner’s activity and then go for the big one.
3. Ask for bank fees to be waived
There’s no harm in asking your bank to waive some of their fees, especially if you’ve been with them a long time or you’ve found another bank offering a better service.
4. Cancel services you don’t need
It’s very easy to forget about low cost regular payments that individually don’t cost much, but a few added together every month add up. As an example, a window cleaner who comes around every two months…do you really need him to clean your windows that often?
5. Use cash
The field of behavioural economics widely accepts that consumers find it harder to pay for an item with cash than with a card. Consumers who pay with a credit card focus on the benefits of a purchase, while those who pay with cash concentrate on its cost. So, go shopping with a set budget in cash and leave your cards at home.
6. Buy used or nearly-new items instead of new
Scour sites like Craigslist, eBay, newspaper classifieds, auctions and your local Angloinfo Classifieds to find anything from furniture to footwear.
7. Barter your services
If you have skills offer them to a company or business person in exchange for something they have that you want. For example, if you design websites and you meet a local massage therapist who needs a site, offer them a website design in exchange for some much needed back and shoulder massages.
8. Use less cleaning products and make your own
A bit of “elbow grease” (aka muscle) is often all that’s needed to get rid of a stubborn mark, but more and more we turn to increasingly toxic products to shift dirt and grime. In fact, most cleaning tasks can be done with a few simple products that most people have in their homes: vinegar, lemon juice, bicarbonate of soda and essential oils. Get some great natural home cleaning recipes here.
9. Smarten up your home
Not make it tidier (though that’s always a good thing) but make it Smarter by installing a programmable thermostat, so you can regulate the temperature of each room when you’re not home. You could also install automatic timers for lights, air conditioning and solar panels to save energy at home.
10. Organise potluck dinners with your friends
Ask each couple to bring a course and a bottle. The hostess doesn’t cook but provides the organisation, the location, the washing up and the coffee. It’s much less expensive than eating out.
11. Take a different journey to work to avoid the coffee shop
According to a Telegraph report, coffee drinkers in the UK spend over £600 a year on specialist take away coffee. And if you drink one Starbucks a day for the next 30 years, you will have consumed the equivalent to a deposit for a home! Instead, perc some coffee at work or bring it in from home.
12. Offer your drive for a fee
If your drive way sits empty most of the day, make some money from it by signing up to one of the online driveway rental sites like JustPark or ParkonMyDrive
13. Refinance a loan
If you have credit card debt, take up any offers that are made by other banks to transfer the balance for zero percent over a fixed period. Shop around, many banks offer some great incentives to take over your debt (but make a note of the date that the APR hikes from 0% to the new rate).
14. Shop around for internet/phone bundles
If you’re new to an area, be sure to ask other expats which provider they use and if they are happy with them, then compare with other provider’s prices. If you’re in a contract already, keep an eye on your renewal date so that you can look around for a good deal ready to plug it in as soon as the other one expires.
15. Deal directly with insurance companies
Insurance comparison sites can be a bit annoying and confusing at times, but they are worth it financially, compared to an insurance agent. (If you do have them where you live but you don’t understand the language, ask a local friend to help you out.) Agents do make the process nice and smooth but they have to add on their fee so you’ll be paying more (and if they’re persuasive you might end up buying more than you really need.)
16. Make shopping lists and stick to them
Try to make a meal plan for the five days after your shopping trip, make a shopping list for those meals plus the usual basics and then stick to your list, even setting yourself a set amount of time to do the shopping!
17. Hold a clothes-swapping event
Invite friends and their friends round to your home or a local meeting place. A person receives a token for each item that is handed over for exchange which they can then use to “purchase” a new piece of clothing. This needs an organiser or two to receive the clothes and hang them up, but apart from that it will be fairly self-managed.
18. Recycle and reuse your broken household things instead of buying new
For some great inspiration take a look at ‘100 Ways to Repurpose and Reuse Broken Household Items’. Here’s a handy earring holder:
19. Work up a sweat outside
Now that spring has sprung, cancel the gym membership and get outside for a walk, run, swim in the sea (might need a wetsuit), go to a playground and do some High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) exercises…get creative!
20. Baby, baby, baby…Ooh
Set up a baby-sitting circle with other expat friends so that you don’t have to pay for a babysitter on your nights out and can relax knowing that another trusted parent is looking after your little ones.