When it comes to finances, the struggle is real for college students. Many can relate to the unending wants that are quashed with tight budgets. The struggle is even more when one is studying abroad. Apparently, studying in a foreign country has its fair share of expenses. It doesn’t come cheap. Even so, it doesn’t mean that you have to break your bank. All it takes is a little financial planning and discipline.
This article will outline top 7 finance tips for study abroad students that have broad application:
1. Form a Habit of Planning Everything
Anything that’s left to chance can only get worse. It is beneficial to always have a plan for everything that requires finances. Being in a foreign country may bring new financial obligations. You may have to pay extra for some basic commodities. Social activities may have extra costs. Living expenses may also be a little bit different than what you’re used to; thus there is dire need to plan your finances.
The sooner you embark on planning, the better you will get at personal financial management. Planning will enable you to set aside money and save for crucial activities. It also lets you identify activities that are unnecessary and whose costs are unbearable. Once you identify these, you can sieve them out of your financial obligations. Planning also forestalls the possibility of one going into debt. Therefore, planning should be undertaken as soon as possible in order to make sound financial decisions while studying abroad.
2. Create a Budget and Stick to It
Having a budget is an essential financial practice that has practical value. To budget, your finances, have a list of all expenditures and all sources of revenue that you have. Review all your expenses and ascertain if they are warranted and necessary. Embark on a cost-cutting exercise where you identify items that can be sourced cheaply. Ensure that your expenses are within the limits of your total revenues after setting aside some money for savings and emergencies. Creating a budget is an easy thing to do, but the real test is sticking to one.
For purposes of cost-cutting and living within your budget, it is necessary to live in a city or town that has a relatively lower average cost of living. If you’ve not yet settled for a destination, you can use a cost of living calculator to compare the average cost of living between cities. Some students choose homestays as they have relatively lower costs. This translates to massive savings on living expenses.
3. Take Advantage of Financial Aid
Find out if there are any financial aid or scholarships available for your course abroad. Contact prospective institutions and ask about the various types of aid available for the program. Apply for the most favorable type of funding. You may receive either part or total funding for your program. Use the ideas from persuasive paper topics to ace your application.
Applying for aid can greatly reduce the total amount that you would have paid for your program which means that you can use the remaining amount on other expenses while still abroad.
4. Always Be Keen On Currency Exchange Rates
Once you’re in a foreign country, you inevitably have to familiarize with currency exchange rates. This calls for constant monitoring of exchange rates so that you can identify a good rate. When a currency rate drops, this is the right time to exchange money. Exchange a substantial amount so that you are all good when the rate rises in future. To save on exchange rate fees, always have a credit card that doesn’t charge extra fees for cash withdrawals at international ATMs.
5. Take Advantage of Student Discounts
Many businesses and organizations offer student discounts on items and services. Leverage on these to save that extra coin. Make it a habit of carrying your student ID as an opportunity may arise to use it. Also, inquire about student discounts whenever you are making purchases. You will end up saving a lot on major things like transport, clothing, and food. You can also get discounts in recreational facilities like museums, parks, and cinemas.
6. Wire Money When It’s Necessary and Always Carry Cash Around
This may not make sense at the mention of it due to security concerns. However, carrying cash around makes financial sense especially if you have daily and frequent payments. Using your card may result in a lot of charges. Some stores may also decline cards or place a minimum amount to charge your card. In these scenarios, cash may come in handy. Emergencies may also arise which may require cash.
A good practice is to carry enough cash. Don’t carry your whole stash around. This may prevent theft and also impulse buying.
If you have to wire money, do it when it is absolutely necessary. Wiring money through international channels can be a tedious process. It is also costly. One should resort to this in emergency situations only to avoid the hassle and the costs. Always give someone you trust the power to deposit money in your account in case of any emergencies.
7. Consider Part-Time Employment
If you are tired of living at extremes, try to get jobs in the foreign country. Of course, you should factor in your studies when making this decision. Choose a form of employment that will allow you to attend classes and also participate in school activities. Your best pick is a part-time job.
Check the legal requirements as some countries may require you to have a work permit. Also, check the requirements with your institution as some may restrict international students to seek employment owing to the nature of the study program.
Once you are successful in securing employment, your financial woes may be somehow settled. However, ensure that you apply the ideals of personal financial management when you finally get your paycheck.
Studying abroad can be a fulfilling experience when you take control of your finances. Apply any of these top tips and smile your way to financial freedom!