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Different cities and countries pose different economic challenges: wages, government services, and the cost of living vary widely from place to place. Wherever we live, though, we all need to balance our incomes with our need to spend, save, and invest. We’re looking at families and individuals in different countries and their personal financial management choices. Today we’ll look at finances of a single woman from Strasbourg, France.

France is one of the core developed European economies, with a relatively high standard (and cost) of living. Strasbourg is a medium sized city with a strong industrial base including medical technology and pharmaceuticals, car manufacturing, and other industries, and hosts the European Parliament. The cost of living is about average for French cities, cheaper than Paris but more expensive than Marseille.

🌎 This article is part of our Budgeting Around the World series, a comparative look at how people around the world manage their money.

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Did You Know

  • The average take-home salary in Strasbourg is 3,352€ or US$4,013 per month[1].
  • France has a progressive income tax with rates ranging from 0% to 45%, plus surcharges on high-income taxpayers. Pension, health insurance, and unemployment insurance total around 20% of a worker’s wage[2].
  • French workers work an average of 35 hours a week and are not allowed to work more than 48 hours in a week.
  • France has a mandatory universal health system providing full coverage to all citizens.
  • Strasbourg’s unemployment rate is 10.4%, about average for France.[3]

What Does it cost in Strasbourg?

  • 3-course meal for 2, mid-range restaurant: 60€ (US$71.83)
  • Beef round, 1 kg: 15.87€ (US$19.00)
  • Domestic beer, .5 liter: 5€ (US$5.99)
  • Broadband Internet: 35.25€ (US$42.20)
  • Cinema, 1 seat: 10€ (US$11.97)
  • Monthly public transport pass: 51.80€ (US$62.01)
  • 3 bedroom apartment, city center: 1,272.50€/month (US$1,523.42)

On the “Big Mac Index,” Strasbourg, along with the rest of the Eurozone, ranks 7th out of 56 countries surveyed, with the iconic burger costing the equivalent of US$5.16.

📘 If you’re interested in budgeting but not sure where to start we’ve got you covered. Read our guides on how to start budgeting and choosing the right budgeting method.

Getting to Know the Household

We started our interview with some basic questions about the household, lifestyle, and approach to managing their finances.

Introduce yourself – Tell us a couple of things about yourself so we get to know you better.

Woman, 45 years old. Back in France for 14 years after a first career (8 years) abroad (EU and US).

Location – Where do you live (city, country)? What kind of place is it? How do you like living there?

Strasbourg, France. Great city for low impact living.

Household structure – How many adults, kids, what ages?

Single, no kids.

Occupation – What do you and other adults in the household do for a living?

Land development.

Net household income – What is the take-home pay of your household (income after taxes and other deductions)?

6,493.50€ (US$7,774)/month

Sources of additional income (monthly and annual) – List any sources of income other than your salary.

  • Gross salary: 73,150€ (US$87,574)
  • Bonus: 6,465€ (US$7,740)
  • Advantages through work (holiday vouchers, meal vouchers, car): 5,320€ (US$6,369)
  • Real estate properties income: 33,625€ (US$40,255)
  • Deductions of income taxes (salary + real estate returns) + CSG : 40,638€ (US$48,651)

How would you describe your standard of living? – Based on the place you live in, your income, compared to other people around you…

High. I feel very privileged and have the impression of never denying myself what makes me happy.

What is your approach to managing your finances? – What is your general approach or personal philosophy on managing your finances? Do you use a budget and if you do do you generally stick to it? How do you make financial decisions in your household?

I do not budget. But I am not a natural spender (I’ve always been a saver), and I do track my finances (expenses by categories, financial investments, real estate investments…). I have been doing it in details for 6 years now (and I’ve been tracking my net worth since 2007).

Let’s Break Down the Expenses

Now we’ll break down our respondent’s monthly household expenses into different budget categories.

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🏠 Housing

1,542€
for 2 flats
(US$1,846)
(23.75%)

I own a flat in my home city which I use as a “secondary home” and I rent a flat in my current city of residence. I did not include here what I pay on the mortgages of the investment properties (also I did include the RE income above). Overall, I pay 2,137.5€/month towards these mortgages.

🔌 Utilities

179€
(US$214)
(2.76%)

Electricity + phones and internet (2 flats)
Heating for the rented flat is included in the rent
Water, for both flats, is included in the property fees

🍕 Food

301.58€
(US$361)
(4.64%)

Includes groceries, take out, eating out and French meal vouchers “Tickets restaurants.” Since the meal vouchers can be used to pay for groceries, take out or restaurants, it is difficult to know which part covers groceries and which part covers bars and restaurant. Here’s the detail though:

  • Groceries : 1,300€ (US$1,556)/year
  • Bars and restaurants: 214€ (US$256)/year
  • Meal vouchers: 2,105€ (US2,520)/year

Note on the meal vouchers: they are partially paid by my employer (in my case, my employer covers 60% of their cost). I am entitled to one voucher per day worked, unless the meal is paid by the company for that day (for example, a meal put on account).

🚗 Transportation

251.16€
(US$301)
(3.87%)

This number is what I have spent monthly on transportation in 2020. But:

  1. I do not own a car. My job comes with one, which I have refused. Instead, I am now getting a 4,000€ yearly stipend for personal transportation. I haven’t used it yet (once I put in my demand for reimbursement, I will have spent 0€ in 2020)
  2. A large part of these costs come from trips by train I’m taking for an NGO. I get to deduct 66% of this amount from my taxes

🏦 Debt & loans

0€

I have mortgages on my home and some investment property but no consumer debt.

👗 Clothing and personal care

120€
(US$144)
(1.85%)

Includes clothing (all second hand, for environmental
reasons), beauty product, spa visits…

🧹 Household supplies

38€
(US$45)
(0.59%)

A lot of these expenses are included in my groceries bill.

🛡 Insurance

32.95€ EUR
(US$39)
(0.51%)

Home insurance (2 flats)

🏥 Healthcare

40 EUR
(US$48)
(0.62%)

A new pair of glasses every two years, a broken arm in 2020.

🎮 Entertainment

69.81€
(US$84)
(1.08%)

Bar and restaurant money is included above in the food budget. Books budget is high (171€/year)

💻 Subscriptions

88€
(US$105)
(1.36%)

Gym membership (64€/month)
Movie membership (21€/month)
Newspapers (3€/month)

Charity/Donations

100€
(US$120)
(1.54%)

100€/month in charitable donation

🏦 Savings

750€/month (US$899) in savings,
927€/month (US$1,110) in investments
(25.83%)

  • 500€/month on a company investment plan, excluding company match (4,070€/year)
  • 100€/month on a company retirement plan, excluding company match (1,000€/year)
  • 150€/month on a high-yield savings account (2%)
  • Investments (amounts vary widely from one year to the next, so I’ve averaged over the last 6 years) :
    • Real estate: 360€/month of direct investment over the last 6 years
    • Financial investments (ETFs, company shares…): 567€/month
    • Not included here: the equity build in the RE properties I own, mostly through the progressive payment of their mortgages.

🏦 Other

409€/Month
(US$490)
(6.30%)

  • Holidays: very little in 2020 but usually 1,800€/year
  • Gifts (Christmas, birthdays…): 1,500€/year
  • Cleaning lady: 1,500€/year (but 50% of it is tax-deductible)
  • 9,09€/month in bank fees

* All figures are as reported by respondents. Totals may not add up to 100%.

📘 We only included the categories in which this particular household has any monthly expenses. View the full list of budget categories we used for this survey, along with what’s included in each of those categories: 110 Budget Categories.

What are your thoughts on this personal budget? Let us know in the comments below!

More Budgeting Around the World