The expensive holiday season is upon us, and for those of us living up the draftier end of the northern hemisphere, our heating and energy bills are likely rising at the same time.
For those living on a fixed income in retirement, such facts can cause stress – and even for those lucky enough to be quite comfortably off thanks to a handsome pension payout, there’s nothing that warms the heart quite like nifty ways to shave a few dollars off the bills each month!
In today’s report we’re going to be exploring ten ways you can actually save money if you’ve retired abroad. Some of the tips will apply exclusively to overseas retirees…however, the rest will give you food for thought whether you’re in the planning stages of relocating overseas, or you’re dreaming of a move but presently staying put in your current country of residence.
1 – Plan Trips & Travel
Why drive a car to your destination when you can take a bus and thereby share the costs of travel with others? What’s more, by using public transport in your new nation you will avoid the hassle of driving and parking in a foreign country where perhaps driving standards and rules differ to those you’re used to, and you will be able to see the sights and delights of the passing scenery as you travel.
Further to this, why take a bus when you can walk? If you’re just popping in to town for errands or to the local shop for some groceries, why not take a stroll, get some exercise, save on fuel costs and soak up the vibe in your new nation?
If you do need to drive, ensure that your car isn’t laden down with lots of junk because a lighter car is a cheaper car to run. Think about your journey too, because if you plan carefully and take the most direct route from A to B you’ll save on fuel.
If you plan all your trips and your travel carefully you can save significant sums of money annually, and it all adds up to more cash in your pocket!
2 – Vacation Locally
Why go abroad on holiday when you’re already living overseas? Instead invest your vacation time in getting to know your new nation better. It will help you understand the people and the culture more, and every country has touristic delights – even if you have to get off the beaten track to find them!
By not shelling out for flight costs, visas and even currency transfers, you’ll save a fortune if you vacation locally in your new nation.
3 – Turn Your Spare Room into a Fee Paying Guest Suite
Whilst you may have trouble convincing your close family to pay to come and visit, you can ask them to spread the word about how wonderful it is in your new nation to their friends and work colleagues. As a result you could find yourself running an occasional bed and breakfast business for a few dollars in cash.
If you fancy taking this idea one step further, you could rent out any spare rooms on a slightly more permanent basis to anyone who wants to live in your area and who only needs a room to base themselves in. This may suit a businessperson or a student for example, who needs to be in the area just during the week.
4 – Make the Most of Allowances
Some countries have double taxation agreements in place that mean favorable tax treatment can be enjoyed by foreign residents. Ensure you’re making the most of any tax allowances available in your new nation, and ensure your family finances are well balanced so that if there are separate allowances for each individual in the household or in a marriage, you’re balancing out your income accordingly and making the most of what’s available to each person.
5 – Clear Down Debt
If you have any form of debt – such as on credit cards, in the form of mortgages, car finance or loans for example, clear down more than the minimum payment each month and snowball your debts by throwing everything you can at the debt incurring the highest rate of interest first. That way you will reduce the overall amount of interest you have to pay if you can shorten the length of time you’re having to pay it for!
With banks paying hardly anything on savings deposits at the moment you may well find you’re paying more interest on your debt than you’re earning on your savings, so it will actually pay you, indirectly, to clear up all your debt rather than trying to keep saving at this point in time.
6 – Save on Your Savings
Following on from the above point, when was the last time you checked out how much interest you were earning on your retirement savings and how much you were being charged for your investments?
Fees and charges can erode the real benefit and value of money invested, so you need to ensure you’re not paying over the odds on things like management fees for example.
Have a full review of your financial status once you’re living abroad, and see if there are ways you can benefit from investing offshore and potentially saving tax, and from saving more cost effectively and at better rates of interest.
7 – Grow Your Own
If you’re lucky enough to be living abroad in a sunny climate, there is nothing stopping you from developing green fingers and starting to grow your own fruit and veg. Even if you have limited outdoor space, make the most of it all. You can grow tomato plants in pots, herbs in window boxes, and what’s to stop you from digging some root vegetables in along your driveway!
If you’re lucky to have plenty of space, start planting your garden with self-sufficiency in mind. Not only will you save money, but chances are you’ll have plenty of produce that you can even sell or barter and swap with friends and neighbors.
8 – Do it Yourself
Now that you’re retired and have more time on your hands, you have the space you need to get on with some DIY projects that you might otherwise have outsourced to a contractor. With the help of the Internet and the library you can learn new skills and turn your hand to decorating and basic household maintenance and save a lot of money in to the bargain.
If you combine any skills you have with others in your community, you can share and swap and barter skills for favors and save money all around the home. For example, if you’ve got a good eye and hand for decorating and your neighbor is a dab hand at pluming or plastering, you can do a skills swop rather than paying a professional to come in to your home.
One word of warning – ensure anyone tampering with your pipes or your electrics does actually know what they’re doing!
9 – Clear Out and Clean Up
When you relocated did you pack up all your ‘stuff’ from your old life and ship it abroad? Well, now’s the time to have a good clear out and see what you can sell. What’s junk to you could be a priceless bargain to someone else! See how much cash you can raise from the unused items you have accrued over the years and stored in the garage or stashed in the attic.
Consider a yard sale, invite your neighbors to join you, spread the word around the neighborhood and maybe even advertise bigger items in the local paper or shop.
By clearing space you may also find you can empty an entire room and rent it out as discussed above. Alternatively, if you live in an area where car parking space is at a premium, by emptying your garage of junk and cashing in on its sale, you can then rent out your garage and earn a weekly or monthly wage!
10 – Sell Your Skills
Once you’ve retired there’s nothing to stop you returning to work on your own terms! If you have skills that can be sold, why not make the most of them and earn a part time income as and when it suits you?
Perhaps you have skills you can share and teach, maybe you have talents you can turn to cash – think about what you can do, what you can offer, what’s needed in your community and how you can help. You don’t need to take up a full-time job, but if you can just give language or music lessons for a few hours a week for example, you can soon accrue a small cash lump sum to spend as you wish.
Hopefully these ideas will give you some food for thought and some practical ways to save money or earn extra cash. When you retire you can find you have extra time on your hands, so maybe the above will give you a valuable way to invest or spend that time.
About the author: Susan Beverley [ send her an email ] is a writer and editor for Escape From America Magazine and also writes for and maintains Expat Daily News – the expat news blog for EscapeArtist.com. She traveled extensively before becoming an expat herself having found a place to call home in South America where she has lived since 2005. She understands the concerns, needs and difficulties that expats face from first-hand experience and is dedicated to supporting and encouraging anyone who is looking for a new nation to call home.