New Year Money Saving Resolutions
People tend to make lots of resolutions for the New Year, many of which have been forgotten about by the second week of January! To make things easier, we’ve put together a month-by-month guide about how to save money in Spain during 2014.
January: Return, Keep, Sell, Donate
Decide what to do with your Christmas gifts, especially those items that need to be returned as soon as possible (check your consumer rights). Put unwanted items for sale on eBay or Segundamano or donate them to charity. If you replaced your phone sell your old one quickly as they soon lose their value. And don’t forget to check your cupboards for all that left over food & drink and make sure you use it up before the best-before date!
February: Credit Card Detox
Now that your card has recovered from the Christmas overload, ditch any cards you have with an annual fee and get a free one. Do you know where to call if your card is lost or stolen? Make sure you find the emergency phone number now and store it both on your mobile and on paper somewhere easy to locate at home. Remember in most cases you’ll be responsible for any fraudulent use before reporting an incident to the card company.
March: Insurance Blitz
If you never sorted out your policies after the EU gender equality regulation regarding insurance came into force at the end of 2012, it’s time to do it. If the cost has increased compare, haggle and threaten to change company. Check your house & contents insurance and revalue if necessary – you may still be paying for items you no longer have or the value of your contents may have changed.
April: Reduce Recurring Bills
Get out bank statements for the last full 12 months and identify all recurring payments and make sure you know exactly what they are, how much they should be and whether you still need them. Small bills often get missed (quarterly gym payments when you never go, monthly magazines that never get read) and soon add up. Also check a full year’s credit card statements for the same and remember in the future that it’s always easier to cancel a bank direct debit than a credit card regular payment, so avoid the latter if you can.
May: Health Check
The recession in Spain has meant clamping down on “medical tourism” which could affect you, even if you’ve been living here for years. Take the time to go over your options and remember that EU citizens who think they can rely on the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) for free treatment in Spain may be asked to pay at clinics and hospitals.
June: Prepare Gifts
The summer sales will be starting this month, so make sure you’ve got a list of all special events until the end of the year and buy items while they’re discounted.
July: Back to School
Schools have just broken up for the summer, but don’t forget that text books are cheaper at supermarkets and many schools now encourage getting books secondhand. Also get school materials now rather than in September to avoid the last-minute rush and see our post on how to get a discount on labels for kids’ clothes and belongings.
August: Get Ready for Winter
Unless you live in the Canary Islands, Spain can get cold in winter. Make sure you get your boiler checked and consider insurance (if you’re renting your landlord should be responsible for this). Preventative measures could avoid a costly repair or replacement.
September: Electric Shock
If you never check your electric bills, you might be unaware that in Spain electricity prices have increased by over 70% in the last six years (compared with a 20% average increase in Europe). Get your last bill out and read our reducing energy costs post.
October: Broadband Rethink
If you’ve been paying the same price for your broadband connection for some time, there’s probably a good chance you could get a better price* either with the same company (by threatening to leave) or with another one.
* Put in your post code for availability and prices in your area
November: Become a Bookworm for Free
Shorter days mean more time at home with a good book. Remember to check out local book exchange initiatives or your local library that will normally have an English language book section. You could also take a look at free book downloads, or with Amazon remember you don’t need an e-reader, just get the Kindle app and take a look at the freebies on offer every week. Remember on websites offering free books or films to never put in your mobile phone number to receive codes for free downloads – you’ll just end up paying a premium rate SMS message for the privilege (see our post on how to avoid premium SMS charges).
December: Beat the Supermarkets at their Own Game
Prices will creep up this month in preparation for the festivities, but if you make sure you use food discount coupons from the big brands and buy ahead, you should avoid paying over the odds. Remember, many foods can be frozen and having a well-stocked freezer uses less energy (and money) too.