In these straitened times, a few hints and tips are always welcome so as well as banging the Citibox drum I’ll tell you what I do to shave a few centimos off the cost of living on the Costa Tropical.
- FedEx through Citibox is cheaper than Correos
To start with, of course, it has to be Citibox’s new promise to beat the Correos’ prices for sending any parcel of 1kg or more to Western Europe. All of us living here have sent parcels back to what used to be home for birthdays, Christmas and any number of other reasons. Now, when we send parcels to the UK not only can we save money but we’ll give the recipient the added pleasure of receiving a FedEx courier delivery!
- Using Citibox’s UK Address in Spain, buying on eBay is simple.
2 eBay. This has to be one of the most reliable reference points that exits for pricing. It doesn’t matter if you’re comfortable with buying on eBay, although in over 500 buying and selling transactions only one fraud has been committed on me and that was in the very early days – they’re a lot tougher now, ALWAYS use the site to check what the lowest price is. So, if you want to buy a camera or an iron or a shirt, check out the eBay price to give you some idea of how cheap it could be before you start looking elsewhere.
3 I know this is obvious but the sales here in Andalucia, which normally run during July and August (has anyone else noticed that they’ve stopped a little early this year?), really provide excellent bargains. I normally stock up on a year’s supply of trousers during July and this year my five pairs cost €46!
- Best value electronic equipment in Spain
4 And you’ve obviously got a computer and internet access or you wouldn’t be reading this. My favourite virtual shop is www.7dayshop.comwhere you can get the most terrific bargains in memory cards, iPod accessories, printer inks, blank DVDs, gadgets etc. Please take a look but bear in mind you’ll need a UK address such as Citibox’s UK Address in Spain. And if you’ve got one of those, how about a subscription to Red Magazine for only £12 for a whole year and many others at www.magazinesubscription.co.uk ?
5 Get a Travel Club card. This is absolutely free at www.travelclub.es and you get points for purchases at Eroski, Repsol service stations and from Telefonica / Movistar as well as other companies. I cannot believe that I lived here for three years before getting one. Twice a year they send you a catelogue full of junk, a sort of Argos list of things you don’t want but can get for your free points. However, hidden within are offers that are a true bargain, such as a night in a Parador for as little as €23.35 + 1,000 points. Even if you don’t want any of the offers, you can get a voucher to spend in Eroski which is as good as cash so sign up now.
6 And talking of Eroski, their fuel is anything up to 5 centimos a litre cheaper than at normal filling stations, sometimes more than 5¢ – and you get Travel Club points.
7 Is it just this year, or is it just my imagination, but prices in the Coviran in my local village of La Rábita seem to have increased by 25% for July and August? Well, I have no objection to them making a few €uros more from the tourists but not from me! This is a purely personal list as I’m in charge of keeping the drinks cuboard stocked but beer comes from Carrefour when they have a buy one get one half price offer, spirits come from Eroski which I find significantly cheaper than the others and wine too when they have their 3 for the price of 2 promotion which is frequent. So, it pays to shop around!
8 Bank charges over here are disgusting but a surprising amount of control is in the hands of your bank manager. I recently got the charges for paying in a cheque to my account reduced from €150 to €50 through a single telephone call to Paco, the best bank manager with Cajasol.
- 3 cheers for Francisco Mera.
I still think that €50 for paying a cheque into my account (which took 4 working days to clear) is daylight robbery. Not many people understand exactly what the banks are doing at the moment and why it is so difficult to get a loan so think about this: The official lending rate, the rate at which the banks can borrow, is 1% (0.5% in the UK) whereas the rate of interest on a medium term government bond (a gilt-edged bond) is around 3% (3.7% in the UK). The central banks are pumping money into the high-street banks at an unprecedented rate to try and get them to lend to customers but what would you do if you could borrow from the government at 1% and lend it back at 3.064% (5 year Bonos as of today)? No wonder they don’t want to lend to you and me!
- A valued client of Citibox
9 And talking of bank charges, it makes me furious that they take so much of our money on exchange rate differences, except for Nationwide which gives you the best possible rate when you withdraw cash anywhere abroad. However, if you need to transfer larger sums between different currencies, it makes sense to use Currencies Direct rather than give your hard-earned to the bank. They will also advise you on when it is best to move your funds and it’s really quick too.
- Tip number 10
10 Telephone calls abroad. Movistar allows me to nominate a single fixed (land line) number as one of my five favourites and I have nominated Fortune, a calling card. This means that I can connect to Fortune for the cheapest rate possible from a mobile, about 10 centimos a minute, and then dial abroad. A €5 card gives me nearly 500 minutes to a UK land line or about an hour to a mobile phone and, best of all, you can get a 25% discount on buying fortune cards through www.lastarjetas.com !
Please feel free to add your own comments because we all like to learn a new way to save money and none of these ideas were paid for by the companies concerned (except for the Citibox ideas!).