Moving to Spain: Budgeting as an Auxiliar

As an auxiliar in the Auxiliares de Conversación program, your monthly stipend varies by region. For auxiliars in Madrid, you receive 1000 euros a month, and 700 euros in all the other regions. This difference is supposed to compensate for the fact that living in the capital province is just inherently more expensive. After I applied for the program and was reading up on other auxiliars’ blogs, I found myself swayed by how cheap everything seemed! People were paying under 300 euros a month for rent, which seemed crazy low. I then realized all these people were living in regions other than Madrid. Don’t let that scare you though–living on the monthly stipend in Madrid is not difficult, and as auxiliars, we are making more money a month than a lot of Spaniards. Because I’m in Madrid, this budgeting post will be in regards to the slightly-higher stipend and living expenses here, as well as reflecting my own personal money habits and goals.

At the end of each month of work, my school transfers the 1000 euros into my bank account. For Americans used to getting paid after every two weeks, this can take a little bit of re-adjustment. I do recommend bringing the $2000 the program recommends, as you’ll need it to find an apartment and live until your first paycheck. Many regions also are known for not paying on time, so it’s important to keep this in mind when choosing a region.

There are also a variety of budgeting styles, and I recommend finding which one works for you. I prefer a modified version of the envelope system, where you have an envelope (physical or mental) into which you assign the amount you’ll spend on that category during your budgeting period. Once it’s gone, you should spend no more from that category. I use the Better Haves app, which allows me to track all my spending on an app.  I give some of my categories a little more leniency to permit me to be flexible. My current inflexible envelopes are divided this way:

  • Rent: 380 euros
  • Metro Pass: 20 euros
  • Phone: 10 euros

The flexible envelopes are as follows:

  • Going Out: 100 euros
  • Groceries: 100 euros
  • Shopping/Misc: 100 euros
  • Travel: 290 euros

This totals 1000 euros each month.

These are flexible because if I’m traveling, my food while traveling can come out of ‘Travel’ or ‘Going Out.’If I’m sick (like I was last month) the medicine can come out of miscellaneous, or the coat I had to buy because I’m from a winter-less desert. The goal of the envelopes is not to spend everything in each envelope, but for it to give you a good way to imagine your budget breakdown. I always try to save as much as possible, and any extra goes into a separate ‘Savings’ envelope. The envelopes here are just a guideline each month for how I should spend wisely. Thankfully I don’t have student loans, though other auxiliars have blogged about finding a way to pay their student loans from their stipend.

Overall, this post is just an example of how I’m budgeting as an auxiliar. I’m not living like a queen, but I’m certainly living comfortably. You can find plenty of things to do in Madrid and travel and have fun without going over budget.

Do you have a budget system that works best for you?

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