Balancing Your Budget while Studying Abroad: A Guide for Students


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Embarking on a study abroad program is a transformative decision for any student. This experience provides unparalleled opportunities for career building, fosters a global perspective, enhances future prospects, and exposes students to new cultural experiences that serve as an education in itself. As students prepare to embark on their study abroad journey, it’s essential to manage their finances efficiently. Here are some crucial tips to help them do so.

How to Manage Finances While Studying Abroad

  1. Plan Ahead

To ensure effective financial management, it is crucial to calculate your salary and then set up a daily, weekly, and monthly budget. Later break down the budget for essential expenses like rent and utilities to ensure a stable living situation. Building an emergency fund can help cover unexpected costs like medical bills or travel expenses. Estimating expenses for miscellaneous items such as transportation, healthcare, and books can be tricky, but setting aside a designated amount can prevent overspending. Prioritizing fixed expenses first allows for better allocation of funds for entertainment and other social activities.

  1. Send and Receive Money Safely 

Before travelling abroad, it is crucial for students to thoroughly research and select the most suitable service provider (such as a bank or money transfer company) for their international money transfer needs. Factors that should be considered when selecting the best option include exchange rates, service fees, and customer reviews. By carefully selecting the right service provider, students can ensure that their international money transfers are made with the best possible rates and fees.

  1. Insurance

Incurring medical expenses while studying abroad can be financially burdensome, therefore it is advisable to obtain insurance coverage for the duration of your stay as a student. This can help alleviate the financial burden in case of unexpected medical emergencies.

  1. Student Discount Cards

Discount cards designed for students can be utilized to receive discounts at various establishments, including restaurants, shops, movie theatres, museums, and other local attractions. Additionally, students can take advantage of a student travel pass that provides local public transportation at a reduced rate. These cards are readily available for students in India and are often offered as bundled propositions by payment networks. It is possible to apply for and obtain these cards while still being a student in India.

  1. Minimize Cash Spends

When creating budgets, it’s advisable to limit the use of cash as it can make it challenging to adhere to the set budget. It’s often more convenient to use debit, credit or prepaid cards from your Indian bank or local bank cards if you intend to stay in the region for an extended period and decide to open a bank account. While cash withdrawals from international cards are an option in case of emergencies, they usually come with additional fees for ATM withdrawals, which are best kept for contingency purposes.

  1. Use Forex Cards

Prepaid foreign exchange cards can be loaded with foreign currency and used to make purchases while travelling abroad. Multi-currency forex cards are an option for individuals planning to visit neighbouring countries during their stay overseas, as they can help avoid foreign exchange charges on multiple currency conversions.

  1. Invest in a Bicycle

A high-quality geared bicycle can be purchased overseas for as little as US$100, which roughly equates to Rs 6500 in India. This investment in a bicycle can easily pay for itself through regular use, particularly when compared to the cost of cab rides or public transportation. By riding a bicycle, you can avoid the expense of transportation altogether, making it an attractive option for visiting city centres or travelling to supermarkets that may be a bit further away. Additionally, taking a quick bicycle ride and exploring the streets outside can serve as a welcome break from being cooped up indoors, promoting both physical fitness and mental wellness.

  1. Learn How to Use the Public Transportation Options Available 

When relocating to a new location, particularly a foreign country, it can be overwhelming to navigate the unfamiliar public transportation system. This can lead to opting for taxis and overspending on transportation. To avoid this, it is important to prioritize familiarizing oneself with the local public transportation system early on. By researching available subway and bus networks in the area, individuals can make informed decisions and potentially save money on transportation costs.

  1. Cook Your Own Meals

While studying abroad, dining out frequently can quickly deplete your budget. Opting to cook your own meals can help you save money, and also give you the opportunity to develop important life skills. To save even more money, consider talking to local students to discover the best grocery stores or farmers’ markets in the area. You can also save time by preparing large batches of meals in advance and then freezing them for reheating and consumption at a later time.

  1. Working Part-time or Freelance while Studying Abroad

To cover additional expenses, many students opt for part-time jobs during their course of study. These jobs become available as graduating students vacate them to pursue more permanent roles elsewhere. Part-time jobs are typically simple, requiring minimal time commitment to ensure that coursework remains the top priority. As a foreign student, it is important to note that most countries impose a monthly cap on the number of hours one can work, and violating such regulations can result in serious consequences. Freelance work, paid on a project basis, is also an option that allows for flexible working arrangements without compromising on academics. Additionally, paid internships become available after the second semester, providing another means to generate income to meet expenses.

Final Thoughts

Studying abroad is a great opportunity to experience new cultures and explore the world, but it can also be expensive. With careful budgeting, you can enjoy your time abroad and stay within your limits. Be sure to monitor your expenses and keep track of your income and spending habits. Research the cost of living in advance for wherever you’re studying, so you know what to expect. Don’t forget to factor in entertainment costs as well; having fun should be a priority!


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