I’ve been having a hard time budgeting lately. I blame astrology; I’m a Taurus and that basically means I like materialistic things. I like good wine, expensive cheese, and EXCESS so if I’m going out, I’m not just having ONE glass of wine WHAT GET OUT OF HERE ARE YOU SERIOUS. 3 glasses or nothing, baby. Anyway, to make myself feel better, I’ve written down a list of 10 things I don’t spend money on to PROVE TO YOU that I AM A DAINTY AND FRUGAL MINIMALIST. And to be honest, if you’re not married and are an independent woman paying your own bills and making a normal (read SHITTY) Italian salary, you may need to start being a little more careful with your money. (It’s worth it though, trust me.)
HERE IT GOES.
- My hair. Girl, just cut your own hair.
I think the last time I paid for the hairdresser was in 2013. And perhaps you’re thinking OH HONEY AND IT SHOWS, but until I have paid off my house or start making decent money, I refuse to go to the hairdresser. My hair is straight, brown, and 80% of the time, it’s in a 80s PONY so it doesn’t really matter how I cut it, it’ll always look the same.
JUST DON’T CUT YOUR OWN BANGS OKAY. I draw the line at bangs.
- Heating. Turn on the savings!
The fear that overtakes your body when opening your heating bill in February is a RUSH LIKE NO OTHER. Everything is terribly expensive here, and if you need to save a little cash, this is a CREATIVE AND ALTERNATIVE PLACE TO START. If your heating is included in your rent, pump up the heat baby girl, but if you’re struggling with money, get on the #noheating train. Maybe I’m better at this than others because I’m Canadian and DON’T WEAR A SCARF WHEN I HAVE A LITTLE COUGH (Italians are delicate birds), but my apartment is always between 16 and 18 degrees °C. If I’m feeling REAL RICH, I’ll set it to 19.6°C, but most of the time, under 20 is the norm and I’m still alive.
- Cars and Buses. C’mon let me ride your bicycle.
Until a few days ago, I was spending 9 euros/month on a Mobike pass, but I have to be honest, Mobikes are CRAP. They’re a great idea IN THEORY, but they’re ALWAYS BROKEN, they always make weird noises, the seats never work, the pedals are often missing, and they make you sweat a lot more than you should when casually riding a bicycle. I had a bike for a long time, but it was broken and I was worried it would cost me a lot of money to get it fixed. After months of MOBIKE PROBZ, I bit the bullet and brought it to the shop. Do you know how much I paid to get it fixed? 10 EUROS! I mean, WHAT.A.DEAL.THE PRICE IS RIGHT. Forget scooters and cars, if you don’t need to get on a highway to get to work, get a bike. It took me a few days to get desensitized to buses GRAZING MY ELBOWS on busy streets and losing ALL sensation in my ass when riding on cobblestone streets (don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about), but I LOVEEEE ITTT. I’m part of maybe 4% of the Florentine population that wears a helmet (and I get made fun of when I do), but helmets are cool because brains are cool. Get a bike, wear a helmet. Save loads of money.
- Cappuccinos. Espressos for the win.
I was a cappuccino girl when I moved to Florence at 19 and pronounced it KA-PA-CHI-NO, GRA-ZI like the true study abroad girl I’ll always be, but I learned over time that espressos and sexy CAFFE’ LUNGOS just make more sense. They also take less time to make and cost less. 20/40 cents less per day adds up over time! Go for the espresso and make sure to PRONOUNCE IT WITHOUT AN X. It’s not EX-PRESSO, it’s ES-PRESSO. Also, if you have a cappuccino after like, 11 am, you will be unfairly judged. It’s a thing. I’ve warned you.
- Lunch. Sad salads and broke girls unite
I don’t have a lunchroom at work so sometimes, it can be awkward to eat salad by the river when my hair is aggressively blowing into my romaine lettuce and weird Italian men are softly whispering “BUON PRANZO” while I’m just trying to be healthy and nourish my body, but eating out at lunch is a bad money habit and I try to avoid it as much as I can. I make my own lunch most days. If I didn’t, I would probably eat POTATO PIZZA EVERY DAY at Ballerini on Borgo Ognissanti and turn into a potato. SIDE NOTE: If you haven’t had potato pizza at Ballerini, YOU HAVEN’T LIVED.
- Nights out. Find yourself a go-to aperitivo
I love eating out, but I do it VERY RARELY because I’m trying to save enough money to fix the house I bought. If I do go out, I have my regular spots where I spend maybe 15ish euros for the entire night? Or I go to expensive spots that offer cheap aperitivo (this is a great way to feel LIKE A BALLER when you’re actually broke). If you don’t know what aperitivo is, you need to. For the price of one drink, you can eat ALL OF THE CARBS. It’s a great way to save money and still go out without spending a fortune on dinner. And it’s a good vibe. It’s kind of like happy hour? But better. When in doubt, order a Spritz.
- Expensive vacations. You don’t have to leave Italy
Even though the idea of getting on a plane and leaving Florence in the Summer heat is very tempting, sometimes all it takes is a short train ride and a cheap apartment in middle-of-nowhere-Tuscany to feel like you’re on a luxurious vacation. I always make sure to book a spot with a balcony and a pool. Those are my 2 requirements. Nothing else matters. Give me 2 euro Prosecco, a balcony and a pool. That’s all I need.
- Online purchases. When in doubt, keep it in your cart for 24 hours.
Online shopping is a dangerous place for people on a tight budget. Unless it’s a book, I leave it in my cart for AT LEAST 24 hours. Most of the time, the thrill of the purchase goes away and I never end up buying the beige bellbottom pants and 4-inch heels I am CONVINCED I WILL WEAR ALL THE TIME at 2am on a Wednesday night.
- Full price items. It always goes on sale.
Is there a cute jacket at Zara that you NEED? It’ll go on sale. It always does. Don’t buy things full price. Wait it out. I know you know this, but I’m reminding you that IT ALWAYS GOES ON SALE. WAIT.
- The groomer. Give your dog a mohawk
I love my dog, but if I’m not going to the hairdresser, she’s not either. Might as well save some money and see what your dog looks like in a mohawk. Can I just say, Kiwi’s body looks REAL GOOD with a mohawk.
What do you do to save money? Share with me your best money saving techniques in the comments below! I NEED MORE IDEAS or I’ll never save enough money to finish renovating my home!
A presto xx
17 thoughts on “10 things I don’t spend money on in Italy | Frugal minimalist”
Love this – it’s so easy to save on these little things! I also found a great second-hand shop in Rome where I now do like 99% of my shopping, so I save on clothes and stuff for the house. Parts of my house looks like a 150 year old nonna’s, but can’t win ’em all, I guess. I’ve also signed up for the Italo and Trenitalia newsletters and use those coupon codes like they’re going out of style 🙂
Amazing!! I love second-hand shops too. I didn’t know about the trenitalia and italo newsletters, I need to sign up for them ASAP!!
A good lively list!
But here are some other ways to save money:
1. Reduce medical costs.
After a year you can sign up for the National Health System. You pay a yearly fee based on income, but its very low compared with the U.S. After that, most services are free.
2. Eat “Workmen’s Lunches”
In many parts of Italy, you can have a splendid multicourse lunch between 1 and 2:30 for under €10. Some are buffets. Some bars will make lunch for under €8.
3. Learn to Cook
Food in Italy is fresh and uses no preservatives. Some simple techniques and you will eat splendidly.
4. Free Entertainment
In many Italian towns there are free concerts and festas, especially in the summer.
5. Shop in Street Markets
The food is fresher and less expensive than in stores.
Love! Thanks for sharing, Mark!
Love it! And the recommendations are great. I agree with free entertainment but you know that already. Walking around and you find street musicians. Or go to plays at the university or free art shows. I would also add that you can do what I do here in the US…a “to go cup” filled with wine or a cocktail you made at home. Sip as you walk to go out to your local bar to meet friends…Saves on Liquor or wine at a bar for sure. When done with your drink, you only have to buy one (or 2) with your aperitivo! great post!
Thanks for sharing, Anya! So many free activities in Florende! Love!!
Apericenas are a must, loads of nibbles and one drink – dinner is served!
Discount supermarkets for, well, everything. I find that the fruit and veg at my local Lidl and D+ are generally good quality, and they also have the seasonal produce. You probably won’t find those cute heirloom tomatoes or you speciality tea, but your wallet will thank you.
Eat breakfast at home. Get thyself a decent moka and milk whipping thingy or a kettle of you prefer tea. Biscuits, scrambled eggs, toast, whatever you want, at truely a fraction of the cost. You can also buy fresh pastries at Lidl to eat at breakfast, just saying.
Annual bus pass, a must if it often rains or you have to navigate too many roundabouts. If you bring your bank details, you will be able to split the fee into two payments. Mine is €300 per year.
Keep an eye out for cell phone plans, Wind has a “call my country” plan at €11 per month, that includes several gigabytes of internet use and a certain amount of minutes each month to call my home country, US is included in this.
Used clothing stalls at the local market. I keep finding €2 treasures in piles of stuff that I like much more than what I see in stores. I bought a new 1980’s sheepskin coat for €20, and that thing is *warm*. You are also helping to save the planet.
LOVE all of these so much, Susan! Thanks for sharing! 🙂
2nd hand clothes stalls at Mercato Sant’ Ambrogio, Firenze – really good bargins to be had on Tuesdays and Fridays especially // Invest in thermal underwear – not cool I know but it really helps to keep the cold out // Don’t buy bottled water – fill up your flasks for free at the communal water points // Go to museums when they are free – 1st sunday of the month and other dates like women’s day many museums are open free of cost // Start cooking real “Italian food” – the best recipes have few fresh ingredients and taste amazing and are so healthy // Also buy a big bottle of good olive oil – you can use it for everything. No more bought salad dressings full of who knows what…….
I think the secret to a good life here is living more slowly, take your time, look about you — enjoy picking up a bargin €2 shirt, having an espresso, people watching, shopping for fresh food in the market and heading home having had a rewarding morning and having spent next to nothing. The most precious and richest days here don’t have to be expensive ones.
You’re absolutely right! The most precious days are hardly ever the expensive ones. 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing your tips, Kirstie!
Buying your train tix in advance saves money too.
Drink tap water if in you’re area its good.i livr in Rome and in my area its very good
I also have one of those thermal water bottles that keeps liquids cool for 12 hrs and slways carry it with me so when thirsty i don’t need to buy plastic bottles for 1or2€
Use the app “the fork “you can get 20/50%off in restaurants also group -on could a good way to get some services in you’re area like a haircut or a doctor consult marketplace sometimes offers free things such as furniture or other stuff iff you have extra time and like kids offer babysitting in English for extra money or exchange time snd services
In Rome we have banca del tempo and pay in hrs
For example 1hour babysitting for a hair cut. ..when you have little plumbing problems check a tutorial on youtube you’ ll be surprized how many things you can fix
Ciao Clara, amazing tips!! Love the banca del tempo!! And yes, YouTube is our best friend when it comes to saving money through DIY projects!!
Hi, you said you have a full time job, so you shouldn’t have much time during the day to spend money, I guess…I think you have already focused the best ways to save money. Instead of having aperitivo or “apericena” I suggest to buy a bottle or 2 of Prosecco ( or a whole box when Esselunga offers discounts, very often…) and make some homemade dips ( plenty of recipes in the web) as well as learning to bake some crispy “croccantelle” and share expenses with a group of friends you invite home ( of course if you have the chance to). You will discover that you can drink well and eat tasty healthy “tapas” for about 3/4 euros each ( or even less) if you are, say , 6 friends. And have more fun than going to bars. Of course you can always go to bars 1 time a week, in case you are looking for someone to meet…😉 Learning to cook basic meals/appetizers and to bake a bit can really help a lot. So when your home will be done you will be perfectly able to invite friends ! Another way to save money is to walk and exercise outdoor instead of paying for a gym. But this you already know I guess! Also you can buy very good and cheap roasted chicken or arista ( if not vegetarian) in the rosticceria in Via Della Spada. You may know it already. Apart from clothes, food is often where we spend more, and learning to eat well and enjoy savory food spending little money saves health and wallets. Good luck!
Ciao Alessandra, love your tips!! Thanks so much for sharing!! Haven’t been to the rosticceria on Via della Spada… yet!!
HI, warmly recommended. “Flat” roasted chicken is delicious, as well as any other roasted meat they prepare. Also the other dishes they sell by portion are good and tasty, like ribollita, lasagne and other Tuscan delicacies. And prices are very convenient. They have cooked vegetables too, good as well. Remember to ask of ROSTICCERIA, as there is a restaurant connected to it, but you may want take away. Best wishes!
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