How To Balance Your Student Budget While Studying Abroad

Why study overseas? Because 95% of global consumers live outside of the United States. Acquiring international cultural and business experience offers a clear advantage for students in business, human resources, finance, marketing and other career disciplines.

According to NAFSA (Association of International Educators), the number of American students who studied abroad for post-secondary school credit grew by 2.9% from 2014 to 2015, with 313,415 students taking advantage of international exchange programs. Affordability remains a deterrent and a challenge for students who realize the value of international exposure. We offer some practical tips to help stretch a student budget, and reduce costs why studying abroad.

Rent a Semi-Furnished Apartment

An empty apartment for a year or two, is an invitation to spend a portion of your budget on things that you will not be able to take with you, when you move home after studying overseas. Being comfortable with your apartment is a priority, but with the cost of shipping, it makes no sense to waste money on furnishing an apartment with things you will have to sell, donate or discard later.

When looking for accommodations, the fully-furnished apartments are the most expensive. While it’s tempting to be given the keys to an apartment that is ready to go, students can save money by negotiating for a semi-furnished apartment. Check the local classifieds or Facebook marketplace online, for gently used items, such as cookware, dishes and utensils, and other furnishings to augment your space. Yard sales and charitable resale stores are a lifesaver, when it comes to finding what you need at a savings of 70% or more, compared to buying new items, or shop online for bargains from retail sites that deliver for free, or a nominal charge.

Cut Transportation Costs

Consider the cost of transportation before you select a place to live. While rental accommodations are often less expensive outside of popular urban areas, transportation costs can be far more expensive, if a commute to classes has to be factored in. Public transportation saves money. Invest in a pay-one-price monthly bus and train pass to help economize, and when public transportation isn’t available, use an Uber or Lyft service, and split the cost (where possible) with another rider.

How To Balance Your Student Budget While Studying Abroad

Find Out Where Locals Shop for Groceries

Living in a new country is a disadvantage at first, when students aren’t aware of the best places to shop for essentials, such as supplies or groceries. If living near or on campus, sometimes the most accessible alternatives close to school are the most expensive. Find out where families shop and ask locals for recommendations on the best places to buy fresh fruit, vegetables and other needs.

Depending on where you study, there may be the option of an open-air farmers market. Not only is local produce healthier, but it is also more affordable compared to imported options. In Europe, food prices are exponentially higher than in North America; set a monthly grocery budget, and get guidance to stretch your food dollars.

Prepare Meals at Home

The life of a student can be hectic, between studying and attending classes. That also means that students are more prone to choose the fastest, but often more expensive options of takeout, dining in a restaurant or café, or ordering in for meals. Processed foods are another bad choice for busy students, as they tend to be lower in nutrition and higher in cost.

Not confident in your ability to cook healthy, economical meals? Check out free tutorials on YouTube, or visit some online culinary blogs. In the case of emergency, tap family members or friends for some tried and true recipes, and master the ‘one mess many meals’ approach to cooking larger quantities, and freezing leftovers for meals on-the-go and lunches you can reheat in the cafeteria between classes.

Share Accommodations with Another Foreign Student

The quickest way to cut the cost of rent and utilities, is to share your accommodations with another foreign student. Schools often have resources for both finding accommodations and potential roommates, and it can be a comfort while offering an increased sense of personal security, to share your space. Assuming you can find the right roommate, and tolerate having a stranger in your home.

Remember that the individual who is named on the formal lease for the apartment, is also legally responsible to the landlord for all damages or loss. With that in mind, roommates should agree to be added to the lease for the duration of time that they will be renting. Don’t get stuck with the bill for damages and replacement of furniture due to the irresponsibility or recklessness of a roommate.

Manage Recreation Costs

Part of the excitement of studying abroad of course, is the opportunity to explore new sights and cultures; and that means going out. But get creative about the ways you spend evenings or weekends with new friends, in order to optimize fun without blowing your budget.

Students are often offered discounts at restaurants, and special events. Utilize your student card and book in advance where possible, to get early bird discounts on fun activities and tours. No money? No problem. Invite friends over for a potluck dinner party, and indulge in great company, and an economical meal at home.

Buy Used Books

The average college or university student in America, spends about one-thousand dollars on new textbooks annually. If a text is a reference material that will be used for several years, or one that you would keep in your professional personal library, invest in a new book. However, students can realize big savings when purchasing text that will be used for one class, by purchasing used books.

Your first resource should be the school where you study. Most student bookstores do offer used texts at a fraction of the cost. However, Amazon.com is another valuable resource, and students are more likely to sell last-year textbooks at a lower cost online. Search for bargains and free up more of your budget. Take advantage of used books, and remember to resell any text you no longer need, to recoup some of the purchase price.

Approximately 54.5% of post-secondary students from the United States, pursue credits and programs that offer them international business and cultural exposure, in countries like the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Spain. It is the opportunity of a lifetime and students can enjoy one or more terms abroad, with some careful financial planning and a frugal approach to balancing their budget.

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