Monday, November 3, 2014

7 Budgeting and Money Tips

Budgeting is something most students who study abroad are concerned about. Luckily, there are
some ways to help you manage money and things to consider to help you save some money and be money smart while studying abroad! Here are some tips I used or would recommend related to money!

1) Find out if your bank from the States has a partner bank where you’re studying. 

This saved me a lot of money because it allowed me to skip out on fees that happen with withdrawing money from a foreign ATM. This worked out for me because my bank had a partner bank that was very common in Australia, so I never had an issue of having to use an ATM that could give me extra fees. If this does not work out for you, then consider taking out large sums of cash at once so you have to pay an extra $5 (or whatever your bank charges) fewer times.

2) Think about the exchange rate when making a budget.

This can make a huge difference in your budget! You have to remember that if you’re paying for something in your host country, it will be a little more or less in US dollars. For example, if you are paying for books online and they are a total of 100 Euros, that can range from about $125-$150 American dollars depending on the exchange rate. Be sure to think about that, especially with large purchases such as housing or tuition if you are paying that yourself.

3) Have a budget.

This might sound silly, but if you go without really thinking about a budget, you will likely end up spending more than you want. I personally made a budget for what I thought I needed for food and basic living expenses that must happen and a “fun” budget for when I wanted to take trips or eat out. I also kept room for a little padding money in case something came up unexpected, like if I had ever gotten sick and needed to go to the doctor. Be realistic with how much you can spend and if you don’t have enough for everything, decide what means the most to you.

4) Take AT LEAST 2 sources of money.

My debit card got cancelled in my last month, so I had to rely on my credit card, which was my only source of money. I traveled to New Zealand when only my credit card would work, but I soon found out - my credit card didn’t like New Zealand very much. The only reason I made finances work on this trip was because the person I was traveling with owed me money from purchasing tickets for one of our excursions we had booked. Talk about a headache to deal with! So, 2 sources is the minimum, but I would say three would be even better.

5) Use your International Student Identity Card.

My school gave me this card, but if yours does not, you can also order it yourself. It will allow you to receive a variety of discounts on random things! While I never used it that much, my friends in Europe said they used it quite often. The ISIC card can be used as an official form of student identification all over the world and also has perks available like travel insurance, so it is a great resource to have while abroad! 

6) Save money on laundry.

To wash and dry one load of clothes, it was $6 in Australia. CRAZY expensive. Obviously, you can’t not wash your clothes, but I started letting my clothes air dry instead of putting them in the dryer. Sure, it took a little longer and I may have had to go to dinner in slightly wet jeans one night, but it still saved me money. It may have been a small amount, but every penny counts!

7) When traveling, stay in hostels.

I’ve talked to several people who are a little freaked out about hostels, whether it be because you might stay in a room with strangers or cleanliness concerns. However, if you’re on a budget, it is a WONDERFUL option. I personally LOVED stayed in hostels and thought it was so much fun to meet other people while traveling. I even met some people when I was in Cape Tribulation (the north coast of Australia) and later met up with one of them when I visited Melbourne! 

There are several ways to save money when studying abroad. What you do now to save money can also probably apply when abroad! Be smart and even if you are only saving a few dollars here and there, remember that can add up quickly!

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