being an auxiliar / how-to series

How to: Budget as an auxiliar de conversación

Euro notes spread out on a wooden table. Photograph by Markus Spiske on Unsplash.

If you are considering the incredible opportunity to work as a teaching assistant in Spain as an auxiliar de conversación, you need to be prepared for properly budgeting your salary. Depending on your lifestyle, the pay might be enough for you to live comfortably. Regardless, you need to know how to manage your money while living in a foreign country! So let’s learn how to budget as an auxiliar de conversación.

Take advantage of this unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the culture, improve your Spanish, and be more independent—all while living abroad. Navigating living and working in a foreign country can be daunting– trust me, I know firsthand! But don’t fret. With careful planning and budgeting, you can make the most of this amazing experience without breaking the bank.

The basics!

First, understand your income

It is absolutely essential to understand your income as an auxiliar de conversación. In the NALCAP auxiliar program in particular, auxes make 800 to 1000 euros a month depending on their location assignment. Your monthly income may vary depending on any additional work you take on outside your classroom duties. This additional work can be private English lessons, translation work, or au pairing. Budget your needs to your base auxiliar salary first to make a baseline budget. If your wants exceed your base salary, then start planning what you will do to make extra income!

Because I don’t travel and eat out every day, I have no need to do additional work to be able to afford my lifestyle. This made budgeting my 800 euros salary in Sevilla even easier!

Bonus reading– Breaking down my NALCAP auxiliar de conversación budget

Track your expenses

The biggest part of budgeting is keeping track of your spending. Your monthly essentials like rent, utilities, phone plan, transportation, groceries, and healthcare will be easier to track. Leisure and other miscellaneous spending will be more difficult to track. If you’re spending in cash, make sure to get a receipt or log the transaction in your notes! Paying with card can be helpful as your banking app will provide you a list of your charges, but don’t forget to log what each charge was for.

I use Excel and Notion to keep track of my expenses and my overall budget. For more information on how I do this, head over to my post where I break down my personal NALCAP auxiliar de conversación budget.

Prioritize your spending

Once you have enough expense tracking to see trends in your spending, you can identify habits where you can cut back or make adjustments without sacrificing quality of life. I was able to identify quickly that I was getting addicted to Llao Llao’s frozen yogurt, so I decided to only get the yogurt twice a month instead of every week.

When learning to budget as an auxiliar de conversación, it’s important to prioritize your spending. Allocate a portion of your income to essentials like housing, food, miscellaneous needs like toiletries, and transportation. This gives you a good idea at the amount of what I call “non-flexible income” that you have. Needs can’t really be negotiated, which is why I call them “non-flexible.” Your needs won’t fluctuate in average every month like your wants will. Knowing this, set aside funds for things that give you a comfortable quality of life, such as dining out to experience Spain’s delicious gastronomy and fun decor for your new room!

With that in mind, let’s dig deeper!

Seek affordable accommodation

Housing will be your biggest expense while living in Spain if you aren’t traveling much. Apps and websites such as Idealista, Fotocasa, and Pisocompartido are popular places for both locals and foreigners (like auxes) to find housing. Look for accommodations in cheaper neighborhoods with more distance from city center or, if you’ve got a pueblo school placement, consider living in the pueblo to save on housing costs. Pueblo life is still the good life!

Be wary of scams on any housing site. Don’t pay money to view anything and don’t ever sign a lease before touring the place in person! As the age of the internet progresses, scammers are getting more and more prevalent and creative.

Find local discounts and deals

Many museums, theaters, and other cultural attractions offer reduced or even free admission for students or residents. In Sevilla, Las Setas and the Museo Bellas Artes are free to residents of the city. The Giralda also offers reduces rates for students and residents. So wherever you are placed, research into what discounts you can get with your TIE residence card.

Bonus reading– How to: Getting the TIE Spanish Residency Card

When grocery shopping, take advantage of special offers and promotions. Día offers really good deals on those who scan their digital loyalty card during checkout. So when shopping at Día, make sure to have the cashier scan the barcode in your Día app to get the deals! Carrefour sends you coupons in the app that are usually on par with what you normally buy with your digital loyalty card. Mercadona doesn’t offer customer loyalty services with their app as far as I know, but they still have great deals.

Get to know your city with simple, free activities

Spain is a goldmine with lots of free scenes you can take advantage of to experience its culture and history. While you can do something more organized like taking advantage of free walking tours, do something by yourself like explore parks and gardens. I like to take a long walk daily. Sometimes I simply go from the upper part of the city to the center, and other times I walk over an hour to see parks and other farther neighborhoods!

Attend free cultural festivals and visit local libraries and community centers for language exchanges and cultural events. I know of three big language exchanges that happen in Sevilla; Wednesdays at Checkpoint Arcade, Thursdays at Café Tarifa, and Fridays at La Lianta on the riverside. Look into your city and see what social and scenic things you can do for free!

Plan Your Meals

Eating out can quickly add up, so plan your meals and cook at home as much as possible. I use my Notion dashboard to link all of my favorite recipes and my shopping lists in one place. When sourcing ingredients, explore local markets and grocery stores for fresh, affordable ingredients. Experiment with Spanish recipes to enjoy a variety of authentic local meals on a budget. Some aux groups host potluck-style dinners with each other in their cities to experience more meals together and get to know each other.

Resource: Auxiliar de Conversación NALCAP Aux Notion Hub Page

Let’s summarize!

Being able to budget as an auxiliar de conversación in Spain requires careful planning, discipline, and resourcefulness. By understanding your aux income, tracking expenses, prioritizing spending categories, and taking advantage of affordable opportunities, you can make this experience the experience of a lifetime without much financial stress at all! So embrace your new adventure, immerse yourself in Spanish culture, and enjoy every moment. You’re living in Spain, after all!

See you in the next post!


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