Jennifer and Jim were exploring Europe on their honeymoon in 2009 when the idea struck to move there full time.
The college sweethearts from Arizona State University were enjoying their stay in Ireland and realized they didn’t want it to end. They also met a young American couple who had decided to move abroad; Jennifer and Jim considered it fate.
The couple carried big debt going into the marriage: Jennifer’s student loans came to $35,000, and together they had more than $10,000 in credit card debt.
Six years later, Jennifer and Jim have paid off a whopping $43,000 in debt and saved an additional $10,000 in cash -- all on one $40,000 salary! They live comfortably, travel often and now have two kids.
Here’s how they did it.
Jennifer, then 27, and Jim, then 26, arrived in Dublin, Ireland, just three months after they made the commitment to move. They had no solid jobs or living situation, though Jim had dual American-Irish citizenship.
They rented a small apartment right across from the famous St. Patrick’s Cathedral and landed jobs at an outdoor clothing and equipment retail store in just two days. They wanted flexible, relaxed and stress-free employment, since their goal was to travel as much as possible.
They thought they’d only be in Ireland for a few years, but given Ireland’s free healthcare and generous parental leave, the couple decided to have start their family there.
While they both worked, the couple lived off Jim’s salary and saved Jennifer’s. When their first child arrived in 2013, Jennifer received six months off paid, plus another six months off unpaid. She then became a stay-at-home mom, and they were forced to find more creative ways to save.
In 2014, their second child was born. Jennifer and Jim started saving in the simplest way possible: stashing cash away and not touching it. Jennifer refers to this as her “Sock Fund.”
And it worked: They’ve paid off $43,000 in debt and put $10,000 in the bank.
Jennifer and Jim miss the U.S., but they’re in love with the European lifestyle. They feel Europeans are less brand-conscious and live much more simply, which helps make saving easier.
“There’s no keeping up with the Joneses here,” says Jennifer.
While some of Jennifer and Jim’s success is due to the benefits of living in Ireland, like free healthcare and generous maternity benefits, you can leverage many of their tactics no matter where you live.
As Jennifer says, “You decide what’s important.”
Your Turn: Would you move to another country to save money on living expenses?
Joanna Brinjak Furlong is a writer, marketing strategist and mom based in Los Angeles. You can find her on Twitter @JoannaBFurlong or blogging createfully.