There is no doubt that studying abroad is an adventure of a lifetime, but it is also one that needs thorough planning, especially as it relates to finances. Studying abroad is possible even if money is a problem for you, but you need to give yourself enough time to save and apply for grants and scholarships.
With countries like the US, UK, Australia, and Canada rising as educational hotspots with top-tier universities, more and more students are looking to pursue their education abroad. And rightly so, not only do you receive a global experience, but the post-study job offers get you some big bucks, with graduate payrolls around the $100,000 mark. But all things aside, it’s a well-known fact that studying abroad is an expensive endeavor. And if you don’t have a precise plan to take care of your finances, you’ll be saving every single penny to get by.
It’s always better to have extra money than too little, right? Many students end up using too much and struggle to make ends meet while at a university, and often miss out on the whole college experience. However, with some basic planning and understanding, you will not only have enough money for utilities and other expenses but also reward yourself once in a while.
So, we’re here hoping these tips will give you some guidance in managing your money while studying abroad. Let’s get right to it!
1. Make a Budget
Take into consideration the way you spend now and think twice before you make an impulse purchase. Will it be better if you walk more to spend less on public transportation or gas? Can you plan a night in that’s just as fun as a night out? Once you start asking yourself questions like these, you would definitely see the difference and you’ll reap the benefits: new shoes now or a train ticket from London to Amsterdam later?
It is necessary to know your present financial situation and design a realistic budget plan. Make sure you incorporate factors like monthly rent, utility bills, grocery, transportation, data charges, study material, and travel in it. It is a smart idea to save some amount each month for unforeseen circumstances or emergencies.
Make a habit of cutting your costs while you’re still at home. Set goals for yourself and there are so many apps that help you to keep tabs on your expenses letting you connect your personal accounts to see where you’re consuming most as well as set goals for saving.
Most students end up overspending when they first arrive in a new country, while it’s true that you’ll need extra funds to settle down at the beginning, try to fix and follow a budget within the first one or two months. Rent usually takes up an enormous portion of your budget, whether you’re living on campus or off. Each option does have its own pros and cons, so see which one works for you the best. And if you’re choosing to live outside, think about moving in with a roommate to cut costs. Check out our student accommodation value-added service for information on available and affordable places off-campus.
It’s absolutely crucial that you have a monthly budget, and that you hold on to it too. If possible, try saving up little by little so that you can splurge once in a while.
2.Use affordable phone services
Making local or international calls are essential if you’re a student studying abroad. Therefore, if you don’t pay attention, your phone bill will skyrocket very quickly than you could ever imagine. While there are apps where you can call for free online like Whatsapp, Skype, Google Duo, etc., these apps require mobile data or WiFi which may not always be feasible. Finding affordable phone services and choosing perfect phone plans is the best option to save money while studying abroad. You’ll be shocked at how much money you could save up on your phone calls to your home country using calling services like Rebtel, GoogleFi, etc. All the months will add up and you would be saving up some serious cash.
3. Make the most of student discounts
One perk of being a college student is the endless amount of coupons and discounts you could find to save money while studying abroad. But for that, you always need to be mindful and must carry your student ID at all times. Get yourself a student card as soon as you set foot in the university. Just showing your student pass can help you avail of discounts on restaurants, shops, movie tickets, transportation, and various cultural events saving you a lot of money. Don’t need to hesitate in asking vendors and cashiers if they offer discounts for students. You are anyways a student asking for student discounts and there is nothing offensive about that. Also, there are many online websites that offer amazing student discounts on events and shopping. Another way to get a student discount is to ask your university office or library if they know of any discount offers for various amenities or services. You never know what you might find!
4.Learn how to cook
Food is crazy expensive, especially if you’re eating out for every single meal. And factor in the American tipping culture, you are better off cooking your food at home. You’ll probably notice that on adding up all your restaurant and takeout bills, it will surely reach a couple of thousand dollars a month.
Learning to cook is an art and is one of the soundest tips for studying abroad that you can get. Not only does it teach discipline in your lifestyle but you can also save a lot of money. But truth to be told, ordering food and devouring takeouts is not the solution when you have to work out every single meal on your own. But by cooking a couple of dishes in large quantities on weekends, saving it in the fridge; reheating, and having it later so you don’t have to cook daily would only be worth 2-3 takeouts. You will be saving almost 20% – 50% of your food budget. And cooking for yourself also allows you to customize your diet and lead a healthier life.
5. Learning how to get price cuts from the locals
Your local friends and contacts are your best bet in keeping your studying abroad cheap. Locals are aware of saving up money on products or services in their area. Where hackling works and where it doesn’t, a local will guide you to make smart decisions. Their tips and tricks will let you save a lot on each and every spending you make.
6.Shop during Black Friday or Garage sales
When you first enter the country you had the plan to study abroad, you might be excited to buy the necessities all together at once. However, we suggest you hold off on the items you plan to buy. Buying things like furniture or other knickknacks at thrift stores or Garage sales instead of conventional stores is always cheaper. As for all the other stuff you need on a day-to-day basis, you can always buy items in bulk at stores like Costco or Walmart. And the best option? Look out for seasonal sales like Black Friday, Boxing day, Cyber Monday, etc. It’s amazingly affordable and you can get crazy deals during these sales.
7.Look for free entertainment options
Every destination is packed with amazing places to explore and have fun, and believe it or not, most of them come free or at nominal costs. Try to limit taxi rides and only take them when necessary as they cost a fortune. If you’re living on campus, or near it, consider getting yourself a bicycle or a skateboard instead. Also, make use of the very handy public transport network, you could sign up for a bus or metro pass if you’re a frequent traveler. Big cities are always packed with tons of free entertainment avenues that many people are not aware of. Search for them and visit them so that you could splurge in your free time. Museums, parks, open-mics, skate parks, and cultural shows— all those and many other options can offer entertainment without costing you a dime. Find new people, make a group, and start exploring!
8.Work to support your lifestyle
Most countries allow you to work up to 18-20 hours per week and full time during term breaks. You just have to check if your student’s visa permits you to work and find a job according to that. The additional income will surely benefit you to manage your expenses as well as adding to your workforce skills. But remember that you would have to pay an amount of tax for what you earn, so check the rules of your new country for international students in advance.
9.Make the best use of credit cards
Now, this is a very risky yet helpful hack, so make sure you’re very careful about implementing this one! Credit cards are one of the most effective and popular ways to save money while building up your credit history with the banks. Every credit card has a limit within which you are allowed to spend and then pay the bank afterward. One of the biggest money-saving tips for students is getting credit cards that reward you for using them. These rewards can be in the form of cash or points which can be later used to redeem amazing offers and save a lot of money. You could claim big discounts on your next flight tickets from most Airline companies using an Airline credit card that helps you to collect air miles.