Since I’ve moved abroad, the one statement I hear the most is “I wish I could do that.” Truth be told, it was not an easy move. Homesickness and language barriers aside, there’s a lot of logistics that go into dropping your life and moving to Paris. The #1 logistic is obviously:
HOW TO SAVE MONEY TO MOVE ABROAD??
I saved $10,000 before moving to Paris. There it is! It’s out there. Honestly, back in 2013, I made a “move abroad checklist” and I wanted to save $20,000 before moving. Obviously I threw that goal in the trash – life is too short. But I did want to make sure I had some sort of cushion before leaving a lucrative career in television news in the biggest media city in the world.
There are several things that I did to save money, but first let’s start with the conditions that I began with.
1- I do not have undergraduate student loans.
2- I do not have credit card debt.
3- I had a full-time mid-level job.
4- I had low housing costs.
I know what you’re thinking – it’s the same thing I think when I read articles like “how I saved to travel the world!” And the first part of the article talks about how the woman and her HUSBAND lowered their expenses to live on one income. 😑You may never find the person whose financial conditions exactly match yours, but there’s something to be learned from all of it.
So here we go! Here’s how I saved!
1. I cut the cable.
This may not be a big deal to you – everyone is Netflix and chillin’ right? Well if you work in tv and literally tv is LIFE, then you’ll see how hurt I was over it. However, my $220/MONTH Time Warner Cable bill would never allow me to save. So instead I bought these antennas from Amazon, got an Amazon fire stick and found other ways to watch certain shows. TWC still had my internet, so I still had a bill, but overall I saved a little over $1800.
2. Focus groups saved my life.
Focus groups are a good way to make quick cash. If you can get on the list of agencies such as Schlesinger and Associates, you’ll be sent e-mail surveys for focus groups that pay at least $75 a pop. I’ve been paid up to $250 just for 1-2 hours of my time, talking about my Amex card. This money often went to other bills or straight to my savings account. And speaking of savings accounts…
3. Open a digit account.
Digit is an automatic savings service that withdraws small amounts from your account every other day or so. Their model is based on your spending habits and they guarantee they won’t withdraw enough to put your account into overdraft. Everyday Digit sends a text message with your account balance so you’ll be up to date on how much is missing. I started using Digit in January 2016 and I’ve saved over $600. You can learn more about Digit and sign up here.
4. And even more automatic savings!
In addition to Digit, I had several other accounts I used automatic savings transfers on. I actually set them up that way years ago and the money accrues without you looking at it or noticing. It doesn’t have to be a large amount – every little bit helps. PS- if you have Bank of America, their “Keep the Change” program is especially helpful to save money. Every time you use your debit card, the amount of change subtracted from a dollar in that transaction is sent to your savings. You can find out more about it here. If you’re not with BoA, your bank may have a similar program!
5. Quit Classpass & my other favorite workouts.
One saying I use often is “you’re either rich and skinny or fat and poor.” What I mean by that is that unless you like running, the cost of workout classes and gym memberships are pretty exorbitant. In NYC, I always felt like I had to be a millionaire to stay fit! My Classpass membership was about $100/month and Pop Physique classes (my favorites, check them out here) were $40/class! Unless you decide to go with Blink Fitness ($15/month) or Planet Fitness ($25/month), you often end up pretty poor after budgeting in workouts. In the end I signed up for Blink Fitness but I tried to stay motivated by remembering my goal – PARIS!
6. I sold a few things around the house.
In my 10 years in NYC, I definitely accumulated a lot of junk. Thankfully, in 2016 there are tons of ways to sell your stuff. I sold my Nintendo Wii (and games) to GameStop and received a gift card – I used the gift card to buy Amazon and Starbucks gift cards, which helped me to not spend any of my own money when hungry or in need of gifts for people. I sold lots of household appliances on apps such as LetGo and OfferUp, and on websites such as Craigslist and AptDeco. How much did I get overall? I didn’t tally it up, but I’d wager that it was at least $500.
7. Cut the extraneous!
This is a big one composed of many things. I believe that people should always treat themselves and you need to be realistic when you make budgets or cut things out of your life. Know what you can and cannot live without, especially for mental health purposes. I knew I wouldn’t (and couldn’t) go without socializing, so I cut back my restaurant/food delivery to only when out with friends. Here’s other things I cut:
- manicures and pedicures — I invested in a lot of Sally Hansen Insta-Dri polish – I love it! Only around 4 bucks and dries in 60 seconds! If I was having a good day, my nails didn’t look so amateurish!
- Hair styling — my hair looked a mess for a year y’all. No lie. I did what I could but ehhhh :-/
- I didn’t hop on every flight deal — I traveled while saving, but a lot of the trips were booked before I planned to move. During the time I was saving, many flight deals popped up – like the one to New Zealand, and I had to stick to my guns and park my butt at home. It was painful for a wanderluster like me, but I kept my goal in mind.
- I switched from coffee to tea – I had to break my Starbucks habit. I love you Starbucks, but a $5 latte everyday won’t help me get to my goal. By bringing my teabags to work, I saved about $100/month. I did slip up from time to time, but overall it helped.
I can’t say that these 7 tips are the end all be all – or even that they’re the magic keys to saving money for your move abroad. I just know that they helped me and I hope they can help someone else. If you’re looking to take the leap – good luck! Let me know if this helped you!
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