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February 2016

Sticking to your budget

Published: Tuesday 16 February 2016

In a perfect world, your living expenses abroad would be the same (or even less) than they are at home.
A bus ride costs no more than the small change at the bottom of your bag, and a visit to the dentist won’t break the bank, right? Unfortunately this isn’t always the case.
From the cost of a cup of coffee to public transport to the price of health care, some things are just more expensive in other countries.

Knowing how much you will spend abroad isn’t always easy, so here’s a few tips to help you create a budget after moving to your new home to ensure you stay on financial track.
 

Research before you go


Have a clear idea of the cost of living in your country before you get there. How much is water, gas, phone, electricity and doctors’ bills? Sites such as www.numbeo.com and www.expatistan.com can help you compare costs around the world and prepare ahead. Also visit travel forums and post questions, and download city guides. If you know someone in your new country, ask for advice.


Write it down


You’re likely still coming to grips with your new cost of living, so it’s a good idea to write it all down. At the beginning of each month, create a spreadsheet listing all your fixed expenses and things you need to buy and set budgets for each. If you aren’t into spreadsheets, use an online budgeting tool such as www.mint.com, or a smartphone application like MoneyBook. Allow some leeway for unforeseen expenses such as a visit to the dentist or doctor.

Stick to your budget


There will always be temptations, but a good way to avoid a blowout is to remind yourself of the rewards of sticking to your budget. If you’re really serious about staying on target you may want to consider tactics such as only using cash, leaving your credit card at home or involving your family or people dependent on your money in budgeting.

Re-analyse and re-budget


At the end of the month, see if you spent what you planned and use the information to help set the next month’s budget. You may need to re-analyse your spending and re-budget, which may mean going without some of the things you want. You can’t make changes to things like public transport costs, so consider obvious ways to cut back such as making your own coffee every morning rather than buying out, and eating at home more often.


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