· TAXES: Will you have saved enough to pay yours?

If you arrive in January you will owe about $700 = $13 per week

If you arrive in April you will owe about $350 = $7 per week

If you arrive in June you will owe $150 = $3 per week

*numbers are approximates and not exact amounts .Per week amounts are calculated on 51 weeks of earnings.

· UNEXPECTED MEDICAL EXPENSES: Can you afford to get sick? Trip to ER $150 for basic insurance $ 75 for extended insurance and that is without the cost of medicine or extra test such as x rays, Scans or Physicians  fees.

A  Trip to the Dr with basic insurance and a prescription averages $100 with extended insurance $65

*Price reflected is based on an average $35 cost for a generic antibiotic

· 13 MONTH FOR TRAVEL: Can you afford to go anywhere? As an Au pair who travelled to 42 states and 3 countries outside of the USA during my year nothing upsets me more than to hear Au pair say “ I have no money to go anywhere”…  While I know the Mall is a fun place and buying a cute pair of shoes or the latest jeans is nice 10 years from now when you reflect on your year in America I can guarantee you are NOT going to remember those cute shoes or expensive Jeans. I am constantly grateful for the travel I did and the AMAZING memories that have and hope you can have the same experience.

If you want to take a group trip such as Suntrek or Au pair adventures to the West Coast the average cost

Is around $1500

You will need to save $29 per week.

If you want to take a trip to Disney in FL, or take a Caribbean cruise the average cost is $1000

You will need to save $19 per week.

If you are interested in a 3 day trip to Niagara Falls, Chicago or Boston the average cost is $500

You will need to save $10 per week


Set up a bank account with an automatic payment to a savings account each week. I recommend $ 35 per week which is just 17% of your weekly stipend.

This will allow you to save for emergency medical expenses, taxes and leave you with plenty of money for a 13mth travel trip $1785

If you save $50 you will have $2550 in savings at the end of your year

If you save $45 you will have $2295 in savings at the end of your year

If you save $25 you will have $1275 in savings at the end of your year

If you save $15 you will have $765 in savings at the end of your year


NEVER PAY FULL PRICE: This should be your golden rule while shopping in the USA.

As a general rule after about 3 weeks at regular price most things will go on sale so never buy it when it first comes out wait and you can always stand to save at least 15%.

Any holiday will generate stores to offer bigger discounts and the best time to buy big items is on Black Friday which is the Friday after Thanks Giving. Shop wisely use online sites like Amazon and Mysimon to compare prices of items and always check for in store or online coupons.

AVOID STARBUCKS: (say no to the Joe)  

If you visit Starbucks once a week for 1 specialty drink you will spend on average

In your au pair year $204

2 visits a week will cost you $408

3 visits a week will cost you $612 (that is equal to a year’s worth of taxes)

Instead buy a 6 pack of water or favorite soda at the bulk price $3/$4 at the supermarket and put one in your bag when you head out to meet friends. This could save you an average of $200 during your au pair year.

If you like coffee Buy yourself a reusable coffee cup and fill it from the coffee pot at home. While I know it is hard to feel like the odd man out when at the coffee shop at the very least bring your own reusable coffee cup to fill. Refills will save you anywhere up to $.40 c. (every penny counts.)


While buying new is nice we also have many great consignment and second hand store that offer triple the bargain on clothes shoes. For items such Coats and Halloween Costume why pay retail store prices for items you may not use at home. Google for the nearest location in your town and have fun looking through the racks.


Keep track of where you are spending your money. Many Au pairs are not even aware of what they spend their money on!! Try tracking every purchase for one week and then analyze where you could save.

For example if you are spending $20 on gas for you’re off time gas expenses … maybe it is time to carpool or walk.

Sometimes we do not even realize that drive to Starbucks cost us more than the $4 for the coffee it also cost us the $4 in gas to get there!!! Do your body a favor and walk or borrow your host family’s bike??

Here is a Smart Budget that is still allows you to have fun … track your spending for a week and see what your chart would look like..


If something is going to cost you more than 50% of your weekly salary (over $100) try sleeping on it and seeing if the purchase still seems worthwhile. Sleeping on an idea helps you have clarity. Impulse Buying will almost always end up in you paying more money than should for something you may not really need or use.


Eating out can be an Au pairs biggest expense. But there are ways to ways to eat out and not break the budget.

Try Applebee’s 2 for $20 dinner

Fridays choose 2 for $10 meal deal

Olive garden also offers an all you can eat pasta breadsticks and salad meal deal

Look for coupons many restaurants will have a half of a 2nd entrée in the blue coupon saver that comes in the mail split the cost with a friend. Sign up for daily deals through sites like Groupon.

If you are over 21 drinking is what will kill your bill. Try a BYOB or check out local restaurants to see what specials they have in advance and order the discount drink!!

Have a budget in mind before you go out and stick to it.


Avoid the temptation to break your budget by hanging out with like minded friends who are also interested in spending and saving their money wisely.


Being bored is the number one reason Au pairs will spend money. Try not to spend money on things that are not budgeted for or planned for. If you are bored and looking for something to do, try searching the internet for free local activities.  Better yet head to the Gym, not only is it good for your heart but good for clearing your head of all those unbudgeted items. You will be less likely to blow your money after a good workout.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012 7:56 PM


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