Budget-conscious expat and Living France columnist Laura Harley embraced a more frugal way of life when she moved to Limousin in 2018. Here she shares some of her savvy money-saving tips for spending less without sacrificing quality of life
My life in Limousin is very different from the one I had in the UK, and one of the biggest changes was adjusting to a more frugal approach to living, thanks to a considerably smaller income. I say that proudly because our choice to move here was based upon an appreciation for the quality of life and not the number of things owned. One way to manage has been to learn to live on less money. It’s a rewarding way to live, and it has fast become second nature.
1. Swap champagne for crémant d’Alsace – averaging around €6 a bottle at Aldi or E.Leclerc – or mousseaux, another sparkling wine which you can buy in Carrefour for the princely sum of €1.50 a bottle.
2. Get a grasp of the cost of living early on. Ease yourself into a frugal French lifestyle by remembering that this isn’t a holiday – give yourself a deadline by which you will try to shift spending back to normal, and this will help you to control the outward flow of money. I kept a spreadsheet of the costs of food items by supermarket for the first few months.
3. Think about ways to multitask which might economise. The oven can give twice – once in cooking and once if the door is left open once turned off to disperse its heat into the kitchen. One of our regular rustic cheats is to cook on the top of our wood-burning fire.
4. Look out for the weekly ‘pub’ leaflets which will arrive in your postbox each week. Noticing offers, vouchers and bulk buys makes sense. For example, the weekly Casino store leaflet will give the bearer €10 off a €50 spend. Not a bad saving if you go there regularly. It’s also worth registering for the various shop loyalty cards, as these can allow you to gain access to preferential pricing in-store and additional discounts on special annual wine sales.
5. Growing your own typically higher-priced fruit and veg can mean a money-saving harvest later on. Think about the top five things that you and your family eat which you could feasibly grow and plan your potager around these.
6. One of my favourite apps – the results of my use you can see all over my Instagram feed – Too Good To Go allows you to search for nearby businesses which sell discounted “magic bags” of perishable produce at the end of the day in the fight against food waste. For the princely sum of €2.99 we’ve had a baguette, a loaf, 2 apple pastries and 2 crêpe desserts from our village bakery!
7. To save money on your heating bills, find out what eco benefits you might be entitled to for upgrading your home’s insulation. There is presently a government initiative to support French residents whose properties could be improved by insulation in a loft or basement. If your income is low enough you could be offered insulation for just €1! Previously this scheme was only open to those on a low income, however, income ceilings have now been developed to open this up to all those who are fiscally resident in France – visit the website droit-finances.commentcamarche.com for more information.
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