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  • Writer's pictureGeorgina Cronshaw

Vanlife Family Budget

When travelling through some of the most expensive countries in Europe as self-employed parents, to get to some of the cheapest, how do we track our family finances when prices fluctuate massively for basic items like fuel and food?

Take a look below at our family budget, along with some tips and tricks for keeping things cheap on the road!

Family Budget

We use a combination of a hardcore spending tracker in Excel (Coming soon!), which lets us track every penny we’ve spent, as well as an annual budget set up in our Starling Bank app which takes care of monthly/yearly bills and savings.

But our monthly family budget essentially boils down to this:

Learn more about how we use Starling bank and what 'Spaces' is, in my post about budgeting.

My work 2 days a week only just covers our monthly spending, so for us, it's very important to stick to our budget as there is no wiggle room! We save where we can, get creative to make sure we don’t overspend and take care of our stuff to make sure it will last as long as it can.

Tips and tricks for travelling cheap

Creative cooking

As vegans, some of the branded meat and dairy substitute items we are used to in the UK are expensive imports on the other side of Europe. In situations like this we could either buy the expensive item and bulk out meals in other ways to make it go further or we can substitute it with something nutritionally similar which will go with the meals. For us, this is often protein, which can cheaply be subbed for beans and lentils!

Research where you are going

Countries like Switzerland and Austria have ‘Vignettes’ which are a kind of pre-paid road tax for visitors. Totally worth it as their roads are beautiful! But if you don’t buy them before entering the country, you may face a hefty fine. This is one of many things which we wouldn’t normally think to get as residents of the UK, but only through thoroughly researching our destinations did we find out!

Appreciate what you have

Instead of spending money on sightseeing attractions, appreciate the world around you and find a local free walk, enjoy finding hidden beauty spots for picnics or take up a hobby like foraging which is good for teaching kids about nature and can sometimes provide free food (if you are careful!).

Plan your route

Knowing where you are going and for how long will make a big difference in how much you spend. If you can plan to visit somewhere like Switzerland for a very short time, you can buy food just before the border and save up to 30% compared to buying the same in a Swiss shop. Then if you spend more time in a much cheaper country, you can ‘save up’ for eating out or attractions.

Sign up to the Raise Your Game newsletter or follow my socials to see the next part in my budgeting series: Monthly budgeting – Accuracy where it counts.

As a licenced bookkeeper in training with years of experience in managing corporate events, I’m pretty good with budgets! If you need any help with managing your personal or business budget or want help with reducing your bills, contact me for a free 30-minute consultation here.

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