Bulgaria on a budget: Tips for saving money

Looking for ideas that will help you save some money? I have gathered a few tips that might help you keep track of your budget and hopefully increase the amount of your monthly savings.

1. Take advantage of discounts

You will be surprised by the amount of shops and services that actually offer discounts in Bulgaria! So next time before you buy something, consider checking online for a discount that may be available for you and your friends. On our page for discounts we have uploaded some offers available!

Of course, membership cards also usually give you discounts – so check if your local gym or shop doesn’t offer something similar that will help you spend less. For instance, Billa supermarket offers a free “Billa card” so that you buy different items for a lower price!

2. Use public transport

We know that taxi services are very convenient and maybe even cheaper in comparison to similar services abroad. However, when you compare their fares to the fee of a public transport ticket in Bulgaria … you will see where your savings go. For instance, a one-way ticket in Sofia costs 1.60 BGN (and a taxi in Sofia will never charge you less than 5 leva). The same thing is valid when it comes to travelling between cities – trains and buses are much cheaper in comparison to renting a car or booking a private pick-up (if you are more people and you share, it might be quite similar in terms of expenses, though). Of course, travelling by public transport usually takes more time, so it is better to plan your trip in advance. You can also download useful applications like Moovit to find out which bus or tram line you need to catch, so that you don’t feel lost.

Of course, the cheapest option (the healthiest too) is to actually go everywhere by foot or maybe even buy/rent a bike!

3. Be careful when renting a flat

I definitely recommend you compare different websites and estate agent services before you go for a flat. Do your research and see how the prices vary according to the different neighborhoods which you may be interested in. If you use estate agent services to find a flat, make sure it is not a rip-off and ask around how much estate agents usually charge (depending on the city, it is usually around 50% of the first month rental fee). If people know you are a foreigner and you are not very familiar with the estate market, they might take advantage and charge you more than they should or show you only the expensive flats in the area. A famous website for looking for flats is www.imot.bg (keep in mind some of the offers there might not be trustworthy). You can also look for Facebook groups in the Bulgarian city you live in where people share their flats or post apartments available.

Of course, it is cheaper to share a flat, so make sure you ask around or check online if someone might be looking for a flat mate!

4. Restaurants – choose wisely

Of course, most restaurants in the city center are usually very expensive. This means you have three options (I don’t count eat-at-home as an option):

  • Go for restaurants that are not located right next to famous sightseeing places. The price difference is huge!
  • Ask locals for advice – maybe they know small restaurants that are budget-friendly and offer delicious meals!
  • Do your research in advance. Some restaurants have uploaded their menu on their website, so you can check the price list before you go there and see if it fits your budget.

5. Prepare your meal in advance

I find it quite hard to make myself prepare breakfast and lunch for next day. However, I admit I have done it a couple of times and there are literally no drawbacks of doing this. To start with, it is more likely you eat healthier if you prepare your meal at home. Also, it is much cheaper to buy something and cook it at home in comparison if you grab breakfast before going to work and then even go out for lunch. Unfortunately, this is a habit I am still working on!

One thing I have noticed helps me pack my meal before I go out is when I cook more than I eat. So instead of cooking a small portion when you are about to eat, cook two-three times more, so that you have something to bring with you when you to go work or university!

6. Look out for sales

Follow your favourite shop or restaurant on social media or sign up for their newsletter and you will be amazed of the amount of sales happening almost each month! Especially after winter or summer, clothing brands offer big sales, so it is definitely a better idea to go shopping then! Of course, look out for “fake sales” (unfortunately happening quite often in Bulgaria) when some items are marked as discounted just so customers get tempted to buy it. The best advice in this case is to simply compare prices of different shops or if you are interested in buying a certain item, check its price before and after the sale has been announced.

7. Holidays!

If you live in Bulgaria, you probably already know that we have plenty of holidays! And one of the best things about them is that restaurants, shops and even museums usually offer special discounts! For instance, museums in Bulgaria are usually free of charge on national holidays. Restaurants and shops may offer discounts for St. Valentine’s Day, 8 March or other holidays when people tend to go out or buy gifts! Again, the best way to find out about such deals is by following your favourite brands or restaurants online. 

8. Calculate your weekly budget

In any case, I believe that the best way to save money is to actually keep track of how much money you spend. Once you write down in a notebook (or in ‘Notes’ in your phone) every time you pay for something, you will feel quite uncomfortable next time you actually spend money on something that you don’t really need. In the end of the month it is also a good idea to go over all expenses and see where you might be able to spend less and improve your budget for next month.

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