How to save money when you live in an expensive place.
Here’s how we save money, and do things on the cheap or nearly free in Nuuk, Greenland.
Saving money for any growing family is hard. But saving money is even harder when you live in an expensive country. The first thing we did was to create a budget. To do this we had to account for all of our expenses and spending. This was hard because it meant that we had to see where we were spending the most and where we needed to cut our spending. When we added it up we had to make some hard choices about where to cut spending. From there we designed our budget so we can account for all of our money and how we stay within our budget for the long term.
Here is how we ‘try’ to save money when living in Greenland:
- We walk or take the bus.
- We walk a lot as we don’t have a car. This has mostly worked out as everyone walks here and nothing is so far away as we live in a small town (which is the biggest city in Greenland but small in terms of Copenhagen, Denmark). So we explore on foot and we get exercise.
- We bike.
- Biking had been a consistent norm for our family. This comes from biking in Demark. But my music man husband is a great biker and loves to bike everywhere, rain or shine. We do it and we love it.
- We take the bus.
- We take the bus as a means of public transportation when we don’t walk or bike. We purchased ‘bus cards’ for this but it is so much less than the cost of owning a car. Also, the bus system here is always on time and quite convenient as it comes every 20 minutes.
- Pack snacks/lunches
- I’ve invested a lot of time and effort into snack and meal preparation as my kids are forever hungry. And I don’t want to spend a lot of money on crappy sugary snacks that don’t fill them up. It’s always better to be prepared and make those snacks ahead of time. I’ve learned that meal prep is the most cost-effective way to go.
- We 2nd hand shop.
- This has absolutely saved us in terms of finding things we need. Specifically, at the Red Cross, we’ve found warm winter clothes, kitchen items, skis, snowboarding gear, and shoes for the kids.
- We look for 2nd hand things online, Facebook marketplace is awesome for this.
- We switched to frozen veggies because the cost to buy fresh veggies is astronomically expensive.
- It was a shock to our system to switch from fresh to frozen veggies but we had to cut our grocery shopping expenses down.
- We are also trying to grow our own veggies and herbs as well.
- I plan meals and meal prep
- I try to plan our meals so I only shop for what we need. This alleviates the whole, ‘what’s for dinner?’ and grocery shopping more than we need to. It’s cost-effective to a point but it has helped our budget to save money.
- We fill up our reusable water bottles before we leave the house.
- Buying individual bottles of water is expensive not to mention wasteful. We don’t do that anymore. I fill our water bottles up before we leave the house. That way the kids always have their water and we don’t buy anything unnecessary (or contribute to the plastic overfill in landfills).
- We subsistence hunting caribou (during hunting season), and we fish a lot.
- Thank goodness my danish husband was keen on learning to hunt and fish. We have a freezer filled with fish and tutu (caribou). We try to live off the land as my ancestors did and this just feeds my soul as well.
Saving money is hard when you live in an expensive country. But saving money when you live in an expensive place is harder when you don’t know how to save money. We are trying all the things and I believe through trial and error we will get there. The main thing I’ve learned is that we have to keep monthly checks on our budget. This lets us know that we are staying in our lane, spending accordingly, and just living within our means. It has been great to have monthly ‘budget meetings’ to keep track of our spending and long-term goals. I highly suggest it to any family that is trying to maintain some sort of family spending budget.
How do you save money when you live in an expensive place?
Check out my personal finance journey on my podcast.
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