Money Saving Tips for New Expats

If there is anything we’re experts at around here, it’s saving money. So much so that we even got a blog comment from a TV show inviting us to apply to be on a reality show about Extreme Cheapskates. Um… no I think we’ll pass. I don’t see becoming reality TV stars is in our future.

Because we often tend to stay at destinations for a few months rather than just a few weeks, we tend to use money saving ideas that are used by people who live there rather than just tourists. Here are some of our best tips for finding local deals when you’re new to a destination.

1. Find out where people buy and sell second hand stufff.

For the US, this will usually be Craigslist. For the UK, Gumtree. Trade Me is popular in New Zealand. For the UK, charity shops can be awesome places to find used furniture. I got a perfectly acceptable sofa for 25 GBP, and some chairs for around 5-10 GBP. True confessions: I even took the chairs home on the bus! They were dining room type chairs that I could just stack together, to go with a table I’d bought at Ikea.

2. Restaurant vouchers.

Since I’m vegan and only eat at vegetarian restaurants, I’m not really into the restaurant voucher scene but my Mum and all her friends are devotees of something called “The Entertainment Book” which has tons of “buy one meal, get one free” vouchers for restaurants in Christchurch, New Zealand. Find out if there is an equivalent for the new town or city you’re making a home in.

3. Dollar stores.

Depending on where you are, “dollar stores,” may or may not be a big way to save money. In New York, they certainly are. One of the first things my New Yorker friend who lives in Hawaii mentioned to me when I was visiting her recently was that her Dad has been sending gifts to her kids from a great new dollar store his long time girlfriend recently found in NY. The gifts were really cool cardboard models of iconic New York structures like the Brooklyn Bridge that had to be put together out of 50 or so pieces, like a 3D jigsaw.

Dollar stores are awesome for if you’re planning a party and want to do it on a budget. They’re also good if you’re traveling with kids who are sick of the 3 toys you managed to fit into your suitcases. They’ll often have fun stuff like glow sticks, slinkys, and yoyos. I like the dollar stores in LA too.

4. Find local discount code sites.

It is very frustrating to search for coupon codes and find they’re all US only. Try to find sites that have reliable codes that are country specific. If you’re from the US, remember that you are from the land of coupon codes, so you might not find great coupons in your new country as frequently as you do at home. One of the reasons I love the US is because it’s so easy to find coupon codes, and I hate paying full price for anything. (Yeah, maybe I should be on an extreme cheapskates show!)

5. Get to know when the best sales are.

For example, in New Zealand, the Boxing Day Sales are usually the best sales of the year. “Boxing Day” is the day after Christmas. Lots of people hold off on buying things like small appliances until this one day of the year (well, usually the sales will run for 2-3 days from the 26th of December). I’ve been surprised that after-Christmas sales aren’t as big in the US, probably because Boxing Day is not a public holiday in the US. In the US some examples of the biggest and best sales are Black Friday and Cyber Monday which follow Thanksgiving, and Memorial Day in late May.

What are the deal finding tips you use when you’re a new resident somewhere, or temporary resident of a new place?

Money saving tips for new expats

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