Costaconnected 2015You’ve heard the old saying, only a fool expects to keep doing things the same way and achieve different results – well, I expect many philosophers have expressed it far more elegantly than that. What I am getting at is, if you want something different to happen, then you have to do something different to make that change.

Of course we all tend to stick to what we know and what is tried and tested, but you could be closing yourself off to innovations which could make a difference in your life. I’d like to suggest three ways to save yourself a few quid now that the new year is upon us.

1. Screen-scrape for best flight deals

Do you tend to go straight to your favourite airlines to check costs for travel? Then you will almost certainly be able to save money checking on an aggregator first, then firing up the airline’s own website.

Try Flightchecker for flights in Europe, and Skyscanner worldwide. Play with whichever variables you can adjust – travelling on a different day or driving to a different airport can make a world of difference on cost, and it’s much easier to alter these on a screen-scraper than on the airlines’ site, (they have a vested interest, after all, in not showing you how you could go a bit cheaper the day before). Find out the best value flights, THEN right-click to open the screen-scraper’s link in a new window – and double-check by going to the airline’s site direct in another new window.

Of course you might have lots of other factors to consider such as convenience and hours of travel, but if you want to save money this really makes a difference. And finally, book straight away once you are on the airline’s own page with the best price in front of you – if you have to come back to it, be sure to flush cookies first or use a different browser, as some of them will never show you that price again.

2. Ditch your Broker and try Transferwise

Are you still using a currency broker, or worse still your bank, to move funds from Sterling into Euros (or vice versa?)

Then get yourself over to Transferwise and compare the rate directly – after multiple attempts I have NOT found a broker to beat them, on smaller amounts, like monthly income or pension type amounts (I have not personally compared or tested them with the house-buying type transfers – and you might want that managed by a brokerage who can watch trends and deal at the best moment, I suspect that could work in your favour, for that kind of deal)

For smaller payments though you won’t do better than Transferwise, and it’s very simple to use – my referral link above gets you a free transfer on your first go, so the rate you see on the homescreen is exactly what you get in your account, thereafter its 0.5% between € and £ (varies up to 1% for some currencies) – this proportional amount is why it may be cheaper to use a broker for larger amounts even if the rate is worse, incidentally.

They are registered with the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) as a fully authorized payments institution , so your funds are safe – and typically arrive the next day (though due to the BACs system it can be up to 3 days later). I have often had funds hit my Spanish account the same day, sometimes before it appears to have even debited from the UK one! But allow a little longer for your very first transfer as you will need to upload ID and so on, to prove you aren’t a money launderer.

They have helpful and responsive customer support if you need or want to talk to someone, before you give them all your money (or perhaps that’s just me!) I have been using them for nearly a year and am a fully satisfied customer.

 

3. Make the Amazon Switchover

Now, I am the first to say I was most unimpressed with the initial offerings of Amazon Spain, and even less so when they tried to encourage us to use them by abruptly withdrawing our supersaver free deliveries from the UK site.

But, now that it’s had a bit of time to get established, the inventory is much better – no, of course they haven’t got the same amount as stock as the co.uk site, a mere 86 million items as opposed to 153 million for heavensakes… Seriously though it is well worth looking there first for whatever you want.

The site layout and navigation is pretty much identical to the UK one, and best of all if you look in the department dropdown menu you can get directly to a growing stock of ‘libros en idiomas extrajeros’ at the top level, then navigate with one more click to all the books en Ingles. I can’t see an equivalent short cut on the UK site!

And of course you can use Google Translate to translate the whole page directly in your browser if you want.

Sign up for Prime (with a month’s free trial), get far cheaper delivery than internationally on just about everything, and expand your Spanish vocabulary for free as you shop – not bad, eh?


So there you have it, three ways to kick off 2015 by saving a few Euros as you go. Money isn’t everything, but it helps, most definitely at this time of year. I hope this new one has started well for you so far, and if you missed any articles from 2014 remember they are all there for you at http://costaconnected.com

Costa Connected, for Costa Blanca News, January 2nd 2015

©Maya Middlemiss,

Casslar Consulting SL

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