As any overseas student will tell you, one of the most difficult things about studying abroad is managing your finances. Not only do you have to cope with a new financial system and foreign currency, you may have to live on a shoestring budget as studying abroad is never a cheap undertaking.
We have spoken to a number of our students abroad, and collected some sensible tips on how you can save your pennies when overseas…as the saying goes, a penny saved is a penny earned!
Stick to a budget
Your college financial office or website will be able to tell you how much money you will need every month for living expenses, on the average, and your tuition fees are already known to you. Assuming that you are not receiving a tuition waiver or a scholarship, you know the total expenses you can expect in a year. This can help you calculate your monthly budget. Calculate your living costs per month, tuition costs and food and travel, and allow for unforeseen expenses as well. This is your monthly budget and you should not exceed it.
Discounts on groceries
If you are buying meat, fruits or vegetables, look for those that are in season and not exotic varieties which will always be more expensive. Buying cereal or pasta boxes in bulk through Amazon can give you considerable price savings. Plan your meals, and don’t let any food get wasted. Try to join a student grocery group- some supermarkets offer discounts to groups of students. When eating out, check if the restaurant offers student discounts- many do, and unless you ask they will not offer it to you.
You should already be covered by health insurance, but for smaller requirements there will be a campus physician whose rates will be much less than the doctor in town.
Students usually get city bus passes, and investing in a bicycle is a great idea as it’s also good for your health! If your college is close to your place of stay, you can always cycle, or even walk the distance, twice a day.
Study material can be expensive, and you can always look for hand-me-downs from senior students if they are willing to part with their books. Look for online resources which are free. Some bookstores have regular discount sales on new books, and may also sell an older edition of the same book at a lower rate.
Students can usually avail of special prices on local transport and sometimes on domestic flights as well. Do check with your travel agent and make use of all the discounts that are on offer. If you are booking a ticket back home, make sure that you book well ahead of time as international flights can get very expensive closer to the date of the journey.
Organise an additional income
You can try to get an internship in a study-related area, which will give you some valuable work experience as well as some additional income. Part-time jobs in gas stations or fast food joints also offer hourly payments and may be a flexible source of extra income. Universities often have established programs for international students such as teaching assistantships or research assistantships, where part or all of your tuition fee may be waived off.
Proper financial management is essential when you are abroad; however do not get obsessed with watching over your expenses. Your study abroad period is a time that you will remember forever- gain valuable life experiences, and enjoy it as much as you can!