Studying abroad can be challenging in many ways. There are a lot of things to deal with – new culture, new society, living on your own etc. Taking care of finances is one of those issues. If you lived in your family house before you started studying, you probably didn’t have to think about paying the rent or the health insurance, maybe you didn’t even have to work at all and just got pocket money from your parents? That’s completely all right and it’s very common – but when you move abroad to study, you will have to manage your budget on your own. Here are some helpful tips:
Know your destination
The way you will have to manage your finances depends on the country that you are moving to and the country you come from. Some people can have it “easier”, when they move to a place, where living is in general cheaper. But it doesn’t mean, that it’s impossible to live as a student in a more expensive part of the world! What you can do, is to prepare yourself well. Do a little research about the country of your destination. Find out, what currency is used there, try to compare prices to between your homeland, and if you can – ask somebody that is already living there. All this information will help you be prepared to jump into a new situation.
Save something for later
Whatever the situation is, it is always useful to have some savings. Take care of it before you move abroad – maybe find a summer job or do some chores in your neighborhood? There are a lot of options. If you have something for the start, it would be easier to take care of all the other things – like buying furniture for a new dorm or paying the first rent. In general, it’s good to save some money for a rainy day. Better safe than sorry!
Get an account
The first thing you should do in the country of your destination is to get a bank account. Do a little research about the best national banks before you move there, so that you know which one will suit you best. Some banks have good account options, especially for students! This way you will avoid paying extra for transactions made with a foreign card.
Get in touch with your university
Many educational institutions have a department that helps foreign students with adjusting in a new place. They often can help you with your finances, by informing you, which bank to choose, what are the fees and taxes in their country. Don’t be shy to ask about everything that is unclear – they are there to help you. Also, some of the universities offer scholarships or some other forms of financial help for their students. Maybe you can apply? Sometimes it’s very easy, sometimes it takes a bit of effort (like good grades), but it will help you a lot to be supported by your educational institution.
Keep an eye on your wallet
It’s not a pickpockets warning, but an idea to have your budget under control. Try to follow your incomes and expenses. It’s easier if you write them all down for a month (mentioning the amount of money and the source or purpose) and then see, how much you really spend every week, and what do you spend the most money on. This way you will be able to plan your budget for next month and you will see, what expenses could be limited.
Some other tips:
– Students often get a discount – almost everywhere, from restaurants and pubs to concert halls and swimming pools. Make sure to use it as much as possible!
– If your expenses outweigh the incomes, think of getting a part-time job – may be a dishwasher or a chain-restaurant employee? There is also a lot of online work you could do to top up your budget.
– Go cheap! There is nothing shameful in buying things from second-hand shops or discount stores, and it is a good way to save some money. Also, you could try to live cheaper in general. Maybe you can try to avoid ordering takeaways and learn to cook yourself, or go to the university by bike instead of taking the tram? Just an idea 😉
– Share with others – if you try to do everything on your own, it is your right, but it can cost you a bit more. You can lower your expenses by sharing food and household items with your flatmates or eating out together with your friends. But only if you share the bill too!
Living on a student budget doesn’t have to be hard if you approach it properly and if you are prepared for a new situation. Don’t worry, if you struggle at the beginning – it will get easier! Good luck!