Today’s blog post comes to us from Umass Amherst student & API Global Leader, Ellen Burton! She studied abroad with us in Paris, France, and is sharing GREAT tips for staying under budget while abroad.
Studying abroad can be an incredible experience, and it is normal to have many questions beforehand. Hopefully, this list of 5 tips for staying under budget will help clear your fears about keeping costs down while abroad.
1. Don’t travel every weekend
When you settle in to your new home, it can be tempting to travel as much as you can in order to fulfill your study abroad fantasies. Although experiencing many different cultures and languages is a worthy goal, your wallet will take a heavy hit from repeated weekend adventures. Transportation, lodging, food, and entertainment expenses can quickly accumulate without proper planning. Instead, try finding cool things to do in the city you already live in. Knowing how to get around on the public transportation system and being aware of tourist traps that cost way too much money will help you keep costs low.
2. Pay for experiences that will last you a lifetime
You studied abroad to have an amazing experience that you will look back on your whole life, so take that into account when planning your budget. Prioritize spending money on things that you will fondly look back on. Use your money wisely and take your time to make sure each experience is worth it. Instead of spending money on drinks and cabs every weekend, go to that once in a lifetime vacation destination of your dreams, or attend a show that had the critics raving!
3. Take advantage of free opportunities
It’s safe to say that you are going abroad with a program, university, or organization. With all of these options there are school clubs, movie nights, tours, and excursions that are totally free. Take advantage of your network and what you’ve already paid for.
4. Expect the unexpected
It’s easy to think that you have accounted for everything, but if you plan your budget without any wiggle room for surprises, you may find yourself wondering where all your money went. In order to account for what you can’t foresee, it’s important to set aside some money just for this purpose. Whether it be losing your wallet or paying a fee that you didn’t expect, accepting that these unforeseen charges will happen will leave you feeling more prepared for the future, and will save you a lot of stress.
Not going over budget can be difficult. You’re in a different country that may or may not speak the same language as you but definitely has a different culture. It’s very easy to impulsively spend extra money to get that new dish that everyone is talking about, or take an Uber instead of the metro to get to the other side of town. If all else fails, make sure you prioritize your expenses and only purchase items and experiences that you know you won’t regret. Maybe you went abroad to learn more about the country’s language and culture, so you don’t pay to visit some tourist attraction, but you do spend a little extra in order to try the authentic cuisine. Maybe you love fashion, so you splurge on a new fur coat, but take a night-bus when you’re traveling instead of taking an expensive flight.
Wherever you are considering studying abroad, staying under budget while abroad can be difficult. However, managing your anticipated expenses ahead of time & prioritizing your top activities will help you make the most of your time in your host country.
In addition, it will help you have the financial resources to do so! Knowing that you have a plan will leave you feeling ready to jump in and experience all that your new home has to offer!