Home Expat Life It’s Not Just All Fun and Games

It’s Not Just All Fun and Games

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Going abroad is a dream for many people, as it was for Susete and me. We dream of new adventures, exploring unknown places, learning an unfamiliar culture and becoming part of local society. However, it can’t be all just fun and games. You also have to make sure you don’t run out of money!

We spent months saving up for this adventure in Portugal, to make sure we have a safety net to be able to live relatively comfortable while we’re here, as well as pay whatever minimal bills we still have back in Toronto. In order to make everything work, we had to change our mindset that we can’t just be going out and having fun and doing all kinds of activities everyday. We can be eating out at new restaurants all the time (as much as I wish we could!)


To help our living situation, we set out a strict financial regime for ourselves… establishing budgets for different types of activities (food, entertainment, hygiene products, etc). At first we just made envelopes labelled with each category, and then allocated a certain amount of cash to those envelopes. I’ve now discovered a great little app that is helping us keep a digital version. It’s called “Pennies”.


In Pennies, we basically replicated the envelope system we originally laid out. We set out weekly budgets for each category, and the app does the math for us, and breaks down those weekly budgets to tell us what we’re allowed to spend daily on each thing. It then uses a colour code system to help us stay on track, for the day, and for the week. We find this app is helping us immensely, and is almost turning into a sort of game, as we use try to “beat the budget”. Pennies has helped budgeting become fun!

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