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Expat Tips: Budget for Surprises — Watch Your Wallet

When it comes to moving and living abroad, we all know that it’s the hidden costs and unexpected fees that can leave you struggling to make ends meet. Perhaps it’s an extra admin fee you didn’t think you’d have to pay or refurbishments on a property that you thought was ready. Whatever it may be, managing your money can make your head spin. We thought we’d build on Lauren’s advice and compile a list of ways to make your money go further.

Budget for Surprises

As Lauren mentions in the video above, it really does help if you have an emergency stash of money hidden away for a rainy day. We can’t prepare for everything life throws at us, and last-minute repairs, flights home, or medical emergencies are all things that we don’t necessarily like to think about let alone budget for when we’re making our yearly or monthly plan. Although it might not be a cheery topic, it’s the reality of life, and it’s better to be over- than underprepared. Putting away a little amount every week won’t seem like it’ll make much of a difference, but as time goes on, you’ll find that the small, regular sacrifices do pay off. As a result, if you ever find yourself in a tight spot, and you need to pay out a large sum all in one go, you’ll be thankful that you took Lauren’s expert advice and budgeted for any eventuality. 

Make a Plan

For most hurdles in life, it pays to make a plan. Research suggests that people who write to-do lists are more productive with their time, and they achieve more as a result. This applies to real-life budgeting and finances, too. Set key goals you want to achieve in the next month, six months, and year and then work back from there. There are some great apps and money-management systems online and for your phone. However, what works well for one person might not be the right fit for another. There are several budgeting applications that are either free or very inexpensive which can help you keep your spending in check. Gone are the days of balancing cheque books and detailed finance logs, instead, set up a spreadsheet on Excel or use the online resources and apps to get a better idea of not only what you’ve spent your money on in the past but also what you should spend it on in the future.

Do You Really Need That?

Eating out more than necessary, buying items you want but don’t really need, and using your contactless card too much are all ways you can fall into the overspending money trap. When we’re out and about shopping or eating good food, it’s easy to get swept up in the moment with the whole experience. 

Take a step back to think and regroup: Do you really need a new pair of shoes when the ten pairs at home are serving you well already? Do you really want to buy another round of drinks? By taking a second to reflect, you allow yourself to truly think about your actions and the impact they will have on your finances. It’s a small step, but it goes a long way. If something genuinely sparks joy in you, then by all means, buy it, but if you’re buying an item for the sake of buying something, then is it really serving its full purpose?

Create a Safe Space for Your Money

Keeping your finances separate and in their own distinct accounts can also reduce the chances of overspending and splurging on things you don’t need. It might even help to have a separate card which you know is specifically for your personal finances and another for your savings. This way, you know when you are dipping into the money that is set aside for you to live, and when you’re using money that was saved for a rainy day. Many people adopt the 50/30/20 percentage split when it comes to dividing their paycheck. Half of it is spent on essentials, for example rent, food, bills, etc. You then use 30% on lifestyle choices, such as a gym membership or hobbies you like to take part in, and the final 20% goes straight to savings. These approaches help you compartmentalize where you keep your money physically and also mentally, and as a result, you’re more likely to succeed in our budgeting goals.

In general, we wholeheartedly agree that Lauren is doing it right. We all need a little encouragement sometimes to remind us that, although overspending might feel good in the moment, it’s also incredibly important to save, save, save. You never know what the future holds, so a secret stash might be the perfect way to prepare for any and all eventualities.

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