Have you ever heard of the saying ‘There are a dozen ways to skin a cat’ (it’s a weird start I know, but stick with me)? Well in keeping with that saying, there are also a trillion ways to save your coin. In fact, I really should have titled this post How I Saved Money to Move Abroad, because there are of course some methods that will work for you and some that won’t. What I do want to share is one of the tricks that really helped me to up my savings game and save ‘My Moving Abroad Landing Fund’ in less than 8-months. Not to worry, I’ll also get into the juicy bits, including how much I saved and how I figured out that number – so let’s jump in: first is first, let me set the scene – I promise it will be brief:
It’s May 2017 and I’m in Berlin. A good friend of mine reminds me how I use to always talk about moving to London and how she herself actually made the move from Toronto to Berlin, got married and is now living her best life, in a place that she loves. A spark ignites. I realise now is the time for me to pull the trigger. Here was my current situation: I had a decent full-time job, but I was still early in my career, working for a non-profit organisation, so definitely wasn’t making buckets. I lived on my own in a (luckily) rent controlled appartment, so I wasn’t paying tons for rent. I also had barely any savings. Got the picture? Scene set!
How did I figure out how much to save?
Well with alot of Visa’s, UK for instance, you need to prove you have a certain amount of money in your bank account before you can even fully apply for the visa. With my Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa, I needed £1,890 in the bank (approx. $3,200 CAD), so I knew that was going to be my starting point. I also knew that I wanted to have a bit of time to get settled in before leaping into a job. Now, I recognise this may not be everyone’s preference. You may already have a job lined up or are fine with hitting the pavement to look for work once you move. This is why how much you save is very situational. For me, I knew that with the intense work schedule I was setting myself up with pre-move (don’t worry, I’ll get to it), I wanted to have a bit of chill time without having to feel the pressure to find work right away – check out my post on five things I’ve learned so far from moving abroad. Also, through networking I was able to crash at a friend of a friends for a few weeks where I could take the time to find a place to live, so I wouldn’t have to worry about rent/ deposits for the first little bit ( the rent fees in London are NO JOKE). I also decided that when I first got to London I would spend a few days at an affordable hotel, just to help let everything sink in. So of course all these factors played a role on how much I wanted to save. I ended up settling on an amount of £4,000 (approx $6,500 CAD) which seemed reasonable to me. I also reached out to a couple of friends who had moved to London on the same visa I was applying for to see if they thought that would be a good amount given my plans. Their assurance also helped me feel confident with that number. The lesson here: it can be very helpful to get savings advice from someone who has been in your shoes, so don’t hesitate to reach out to a contact in your network or even someone on social media who can give you some suggestions.
What steps did I take to save?
So I will get into the simple trick that really helped me to store up my dollars in just a moment, but I do need to mention what laid the foundation to help me utilise the trick that boosted my savings. The day I decided I was going to move to Berlin was also the day I called a friend and asked if they wanted to move in to split the rent, this saved me $500/month. When I got back to Toronto, I also began a job search so I could make some extra money. I got a job as a coat check attendant where I could make a base pay + tips for events that happened mostly in the evenings after my main job and on weekends. I also got another job working overnight on Fridays at a gym checking in members and cleaning. So with those three incomes coming in (plus what I was saving on rent) I was able to put a good amount away. Now, in no way am I recommending you to get two additional jobs. In fact, if I had been better with my savings to begin with, I probably wouldn’t have had to do these jobs. But I do think it’s good to remember that if you’re saving for a short term goal, putting in a bit of extra work can go along way. I always think to myself, I can pretty much do (*almost*) anything, for a little while. OK finally let’s get into what you came here for:
The Simple Banking Trick I Used to Help Boost My Savings
So this was super simple and it really made a huge difference for me and kept me really disciplined for saving (it was also shown to me from a friend who was able to save a ton). What I did was open up 3 seperate banking accounts. One, which I already had, was where my salary went directy to when I got paid, the second was specifically for Groceries & Spending money and the third was specifically for my Moving Abroad savings. I then figured out the exact dollar amount that went to my bills each month. Whenever I got paid my main salary, I would take that full pay (subtracting the monthly bills) and transfer it to my savings account. From there, I would take my allocated Groceries & Spending amount and transfer that to my Groceries & Spending account which I would do every two-weeks. I only had a debit card for my spending account, so if I ever wanted to go above the amount allocated I would have to take the time to transfer the funds from one bank to another. This simple trick accomplished two main things for me: first, it discouraged me from overspending as anytime I needed more money in my Groceries & Spending account I had to conciously think about it and two, because I was automatically transfering my full pay into my savings, I wasn’t tied to a specific dollar amount that I had to put away each month. This helped me to create a bigger pool of savings from some of the discretionary money I otherwise may have spent. I’ve even been able to continue to use this trick to this day and it’s still been a huge help in bolstering my short term and long term savings. Plus, the fact I haven’t had the motivation to shop or really the ability to eat out due to the pandemic has surely helped with this as well!
As I was mentioning, this is just one way to help you save for your move abroad. Another blog that has some great advice on this is Migrating Miss, so I definitely recommend checking her out.
Hope this helps with your savings journey 🙂