It's a fact that most of us have less money in our pockets since the dawn of the great global recession. With unemployment up, inflation up and salaries stagnant, it stands to reason that most of us will be looking to cut back wherever we can in order to drain every last ounce of value out of our Euro's.
The good news is that we all have the ability to cut our everyday living expenses considerably. In this article, our aim is to provide you with 10 ways in which you can cut your costs. In most cases, it will take just a few minutes of your time, but could potentially save you 1000's of Euro's each year.
The list below is in no particular order. Some will take longer than others and with the exception of one or two, can be explored in just a few minutes.
Live the Rural Life
Many expats move to Spain and immediately head for the coastal areas. Although this is no doubt the right choice for some, it does have its drawbacks and in some cases, may prove to be rather more expensive.
Many of the coastal areas such as the Costa del Sol and the Costa Blanca are very much geared towards tourism. This generally means that prices for almost everything including real estate, are higher than what you will find inland.
Moving inland can be a real culture shock, but if you are happy to live in a white-washed Spanish pueblo, surrounded by olive groves, the rural lifestyle just may be a great way for you to lower your overall living costs.
Use the Chino Stores
In the U.K you have poundland, poundstretcher and poundworld. But don't worry, as there's a different kind of pound shop here in Spain where you can pick up some really cheap everyday items at rock-bottom prices.
In Spain they are referred to as "Chino" stores and you can find them in virtually every major town. They sell a vast range of items such as shampoo, scissors, fabric, kitchen utensils, toys, lightbulbs, tools, picture frames and pretty much anything else you can think of.
It's not exactly John Lewis but if you are on a tight budget they are a great place to pick up some real bargains.
Go for the Menu del Dia
If you're looking to sample some of the lovely Spanish culinary delights and save some money in the process, then plumping for the Menu del Dia is the perfect choice.
The Menu del Dia was said to have originated during the Franco era so that workers could get a nutritious three course meal at a reasonable price.
Many local Spanish restaurants will offer a Menu del Dia which comprises of a starter (Primer Plato), main (Segundo Plato) and dessert, all for one price. In some restaurants you will be able to choose coffee instead of a dessert, but this will depend on the restaurant.
The average price for a Menu del Dia is around 9.00 Euro's but it's not uncommon to see them going for around 7.00 Euro's or less! So keep your eyes peeled and look out for one of Spain's best kept secrets.
Don't Get Hit by Wealth Tax Fines
Getting hit by any kind of fine is never a nice experience and for many can add up to hundreds of Euro's per year.
Traffic violations are one of the biggest culprits, but there are many other ways that the authorities will look to fill their coffers.
In April, the Spanish government introduced new tax avoidance measures where expats have to declare any off-shore assets that they have over €50,000. Declarations must be made in three different categories including property, shares/investments and savings/deposits.
Potential fines for not declaring any assets within these categories include a €10,000 minimum fine, 150% of the tax owed, 4% interest and also the repayment of any tax that was not paid!
The deadline for declarations was 30th April 2013 with future deadlines set for 31st March each year.
As stated previously, motoring infringements can also be quite costly. The Directorate General of Traffic (DGT) recently announced changes http://www.theleader.info/article/39323/ to traffic laws in Spain for speeding, child seats, bicycles and seatbelts so it's important that you are aware of these changes and existing rules of the road when driving in Spain. That way, you can avoid any unwanted fines.
Find the Cheapest Petrol
The price of fuel seems to be constantly on the rise. Even when wholesale prices drop, the prices at the pumps never seem to go any lower. We can't do much about this, but we can of course shop around for the cheapest petrol stations where we live.
The URL below from the Ministerio de Industria, Energia y Turismo allows you to find the cheapest petrol prices in your area. A great tool for any budget conscious motorist!
Reduce Your Kw Rate to Lower Your Electricity Bills
In Spain, your energy supplier will contract your property at a specific kW level which will depend on the size of your property and your estimated energy consumption. This is commonly referred to as the Potencia contratada.
As a rule, the following energy potencias are usually applied.
- Small to medium sized homes with low electrical appliance usage - 3.3kW
- Larger homes with average appliance usage including air conditioning units - 5.5kW
- Larger homes with high electricity consumption - 10 kW
If you are unsure of your energy levels, check your electricity bill which should state which tariff you are on and if need be, contact your energy supplier and lower the rate so that it meets with your energy requirements.
The URL below from the Comisión Nacional de la Energía allows you to search for the best provider based on your average yearly consumption and kW level.
Save on Money Transfers
Whether you are already living in Spain and need to transfer money regularly into and out of the country, or if you are in the process of moving here, you will most definitely want to get the best currency exchange rate available.
If you are moving a large sum of money from say the U.K to Spain in order to purchase a property, getting the best exchange rate is crucial and in the long run, can save you thousands of Euro's.
If you transfer your money via the banks, they will normally offer you a very poor rate of exchange and will also charge you a one-off fee for the transfer.
Familia Numerosa Card Discounts For Larger Families
If you have three or more children, you may be entitled to the Familia Numerosa card.
The card provides you with a wide range of discounts on things such as air travel, IBI bills, store discounts, car discounts, museums, theatres, zoos, theme parks, trail travel and lots more.
Further information can be found at http://www.familianumerosa.es with a list of the different regions and how to apply at http://www.familianumerosa.es/donde-solicitar-el-titulo-de-familia-numerosa-17.htm
Even if you have less than three children, you may still be entitled to a Familia Numerosa card. For example, if you are a widow/er or you have a child with a disability.
You may be asked to produce your Libro de Familia (Family Book) but if you do not have one, your children's birth certificates should be sufficient.
Learn the Language
If you're looking to barter, then you will most definitely want to learn the language and become fluent enough to ask for a discount.
Being able to Speak the Spanish language will definitely put you in a good position. You will not only be able to barter with store managers and staff but also ask the locals where you can find the best deals on certain products.
Another bonus is that you will be able to watch Spanish television and read the local papers and magazines which are another great source of discount vouchers and special offers.
Definitely worth the effort!