Hey Au Pairs,
Everyone know's the struggle of saving money, but when it comes to being an au pair in Paris - it seems impossible when your weekly pocket money is between €70 and €100.
So, imagine my surprise when, at the end of my first year as an au pair in Paris, I realised I'd saved €2,000 into my French bank account. Sure, €2,000 isn't actually a LOT of money. But it certainly helped with making a dent in my student fees for the year after I left Paris.
I've since realised that the way I managed to save this money as an au pair was a pretty boring and commonly talked about method called BUDGETING. Yes, we hear about this all the time in articles telling us not to drink coffee and to avoid any fun at all, but actually, it was a lot simpler to budget than I expected. AND, I still managed to drink coffee like this on the regular:
Our Top Tips for Saving Au Pair Pocket Money:
Bear in mind that, when it comes to saving - Edwina and I are scroungers, scrimpers and savers. If you're used to spending a tonne, this isn't going to be easy but it will certainly be manageable and once you have the hang of it, you'll have this useful skill under your belt for life!
1. Start a Budget
Whenever I start a new budget, the most important aspect is figuring out my priorities. Being able to escape my chambre de bonne or host family's house was usually number one so I could stay sane - that meant, having money to spend in coffee shops. My only other top priorities were alcohol and travel trips.
Write EVERYTHING down. Now, it's possible to find apps and online spreadsheets which can help you budget (check out The Financial Diet's resource). I preferred good old pen and paper. In the first couple of months, I'd write out how much I was spending at the end of every day - this helped me see where I could make cuts.
2. Pay Yourself First Method
From writing everything down, I could work out how much money I'd need for enjoying an interesting yet not crazy expensive life as an au pair in Paris.
I developed a "pay myself first" method. This meant putting everything in my bank account, other than a small fraction of that money which I needed for living and fun.
If you don't have a bank, you could instead try taking out the money you need for the week and keeping the rest in a drawer. Make sure you turn not touching the money into a habit!
Living on a cash budget meant I had only the money I needed until the end of the week/month and if I had to take more out, I was very aware of it.
3. Live off your host family - as you're supposed to
As an au pair, I would often feel bad about taking food from the fridge. BUT, I'd have to often remind myself that I am supposed to be a member of the family. All of your essentials should be paid for. If they're not and you find there isn't any food in the fridge, leave receipts for your host parent and ask for the money back. It's awkward, but little expenses will chip away at your precious little pocket money! So, if there are delicious cookies in the cupboard or you need a sandwich for lunch - save yourself some money and take them with you!
Finally, Get Creative
Taking the cliched money advice, Edwina and I really did find that if we switched our daily lattes to espressos, we'd save a lottt and also enjoy our twice weekly milky coffee even more.
Drink what the locals drink. If you're a huge wine fan and moving to France, great news! You can find that a glass of the good stuff is as little as €2. But, if you're heading to Germany, you better get your taste buds acquainted with beer!
If you brought too many clothes with you to Paris (as we certainly did!) try selling them online.
Find lots of free things to do in the city. (We list rather a few in our free download of the APOP Bucket List!)
But, whatever you do - don't forget that this is your time to live abroad and enjoy a new city! Don't make the mistake that we did to skip out on fun to save some pennies. If you break your budget one month, make up for it the next! As always, moderation is key.
Let us know any tips and tricks you have for saving money in the comments and watch our video to find out more!
That's all for now, ciao! xoxo