Expats who take the leap to work abroad all face a similar slew of challenges.
Adjusting to an unfamiliar culture. Learning a new language. Dealing with isolation.
Yet all of these challenges are necessary parts of any expat journey, especially when looking at the big picture. Whether you’re looking for better opportunities for yourself or need to transfer money to your home country and support your family, these bumps in the road are undoubtedly worth it.
That said, the related issue of saving money is arguably one of the most difficult for new expats to manage. Between learning the in’s and out’s of a currency or struggling to deal with unexpected expenses, it’s no surprise why so many expats struggle to save.
Yet saving is so important for expats, especially those who want to ensure they’re sending the most money home possible. You likewise shouldn’t totally have to sacrifice your quality of life for the sake of your savings account.
As such, it’s prudent that expats take some specific steps to ensure that they’re saving adequately while still living a comfortable, healthy life abroad. Here are six tips to help any struggling expats do exactly that.
Build Your Nest Egg Beforehand
This is perhaps a no-brainer, but having a sizeable nest egg saved up before going abroad may be the ticket to avoiding financial headaches down the road. While delaying your expat journey a few months or even a year or so might seem daunting, it may be the only way you can realistically thrive away from home.
Taking care of any immigration fees or visas are must-do’s, but also consider weighing your options in terms of your ideal city to settle down in for better employment opportunities, too. Having enough cash on hand to make that move is crucial to earning enough money for the long-term.
Be Aggressive With Your Budget
Creating your first budget to help you wrangle month-to-month expenditures isn’t easy, but it’s a must for putting money away at all. To ease you into the process, consider looking into apps like Mint which send email alerts when you go over your budget on a certain item and likewise helps you track your goals.
Whether or not you stick to a hard and fast rule of saving a percentage is totally up to you: as long as you’re being disciplined about your spending habits and keep realistic expectations, you’re golden.
Put Your Savings on Autopilot
If you’re on a busy schedule or are otherwise forgetful, setting up automatic savings is a smart move. Doing so means not having to think twice about putting money into savings; likewise, this also keeps you from feeling like you’re “missing out” on money because it’s not in your checking account.
If direct deposit into savings through your employer isn’t possible, apps such as Digit and Dobot can do the legwork for you.
Avoid Long-Term Financial Commitments and Contracts
This also might seem obvious but is so often overlooked. In short, those dozen little expenses in the form of paid subscription services (think: cable) add up over time if you’re not careful.
Also, you might find yourself stuck in a lengthy contract for apps or software if you don’t read the fine print. Consider what you’d be willing to part with to meet your budget and how cutting out the “small stuff” can help you save big over time.
Rethink Your Savings Requirements
In the United States, there’s a big picture concept of how much you “should” have saved by a certain age which shouldn’t be seen as the only way to save by expats. After all, comparing the savings of someone who’s lived here for one year versus a local who’s been saving their whole life is apples and oranges.
Again, whether it’s 20% or a dollar amount is totally up to you. Here’s some more food for thought: if you’re trying to save too much, you may neglecting you or your families’ well-being by accident.
Adopt More Frugal Habits
While nobody wants to hear the advice to be more frugal, it quite literally pays to be thrifty when you’re an expat.
Whether it’s shopping during sales, eating out less or ditching that Uber in lieu of biking, small habits make a big difference for your budget. It all breaks down to assessing wants versus needs and being more mindful of your spending at the end of the day.
Padding your savings account isn’t impossible if you’re living abroad At the end of the day, it’s all about careful planning and prioritizing where every cent of your paycheck goes.