Setting up as an expat in a new country can be expensive no matter where you're going. In China, for example, when renting an apartment, you’ll need to pay 3 months’ rent upfront – which means that you need to have at least that saved, plus the first month or so of expenses until you earn your first paycheck. Even if you have an apartment provided, you’ll likely need to buy things such as dishware and bedding. You’ll need to stock your pantry and buy a local phone or SIM card. If you’re going to the UAE, you may also need to rent or buy a car. Research the different costs and be sure that you have enough to allow you to settle in and live comfortably in those first few months.
As you know, saving money and making it can be a serious challenge, especially if you’re between jobs. With bills to pay and prices rising, it’s a tough environment to build a bank balance.
So what are some ways of saving and generating cash? Here are just a few tips that we’ve found work for most people to give them the extra cushion of cash to take on fresh opportunities in exciting new places.
Organization is the key to healthy finances. Central to this is the art of putting together a budget, be it weekly or monthly.
It’s easier than you think. If you’re no good with numbers, there's a range of apps that can do the financial heavy lifting for you. Take Mint for example. The app provides an overview of your money, making it simple to monitor your activity. Why pay for an accountant with this free resource in your pocket?
At the end of the week, take some time to look over your expenditures for the past 7 days. Where could you shave off some costs? For example, those daily $5 smoothies could become a much smaller expense if you buy the ingredients in bulk and whip them up at home instead.
Once you get into the habit of tracking your finances, you’ll be better educated on how to manage your earnings. This is essential when you’re living far from home.
2. Online discounts
If you’re not savvy about the universe of discounts out there, then now’s the time to wisen up! All it take
s is a few clicks and a bit of know-how. There are plenty of sites such as RetailMeNot that find bargains for you. If you take advantage of these things, you’ll find that you can save more money in the long-term than you would if you just popped into the store to purchase whatever you need immediately.
This is especially true if, for you, a simple trip to the local Target turns into you going home with one of everything. By shopping online, you’ll avoid the tempting aisles full of new clothes, snack foods, and fresh books just waiting to be read. You’ll also save a lot of time – and gas! Be sure, however, to factor in shipping costs.
3. Shop smarter
When you do have to visit the store, know that there are plenty of ways to save money weekly at your local supermarket.
Become a couponer. We’ve all been stuck behind these people in line – well, now you’re going to be one of those people. You’ll be amazed at what you can save if you use coupons and meal plan around sales. You can also save money by buying canned or frozen veggies instead of fresh, as well as buying things like oatmeal and nuts in bulk. Meal planning also goes a long way – stick to your guns, too, no matter how tempting that frozen pizza looks.
4. Take a side gig
If you find yourself with a gap between jobs, consider part-time work. Working minimum-wage at a restaurant or stocking shelves at a store doesn’t seem particularly glamorous, but when you’re spending that money in Dubai, it’ll have been more than worth it. There’s nothing wrong with working at a coffee shop for a couple of months before jetting off.
Consider freelancing as well. If you have writing chops, or if you can design, edit, create websites, paint, et cetera, freelancing gives you the chance to earn some extra money on the side. Sites like Fiverr and Upwork allow you to create a profile which can more easily connect you with clients.
If teaching is your main jam, why not tutor or teach online while you’re waiting on your next teaching gig to start? If you decide to go this route, you can even keep your side gig for some extra spending money once you start your next in-person teaching job. Advertise your services on local bulletin boards, in the classifieds, on Craigslist and Yahoo! Local, and Facebook.
5. Keep your eyes on the prize
It may seem simple, but when it comes right down to it, you need to keep reminding yourself why you’re saving money. Make a mock budget for your first couple of weeks overseas. Continually think of the wonderful things you’ll eat, the places you’ll travel, and the people you’ll meet when you’re abroad. Save your phone and computer background to a photo of your destination. Remember that whatever sacrifices you’re making right now will pay off twofold once you arrive.
The key factor in all of this is discipline. These are easy things that you can do immediately, which will make the lead up to your departure a whole lot smoother. It’s all a question of the right mindset.