How to Budget for Your Year or Semester Abroad

One of the biggest realities of studying abroad is the need to have enough spending money to get you through your semester or year outside the country. Though many countries have places where you can easily use your credit cards or debit cards, it isn’t always the case. Instead, you have to be proactive and create a budget for studying abroad, even in budget-friendly locations!

Budgeting for Studying Abroad – Where to Begin

Glass bank with many world coins and  saving word or label on money jarThe first step to establishing your budget is to begin gathering information on your destination of choice. Try to get an understanding of what items cost there compared to your hometown. You’ll need to calculate the current exchange rate in order to obtain an accurate comparison. Soon, you’ll be able to tell if the cost of living is generally higher or lower than your accustomed expenses.

Next, you need to understand roughly how much money you’ll need for your time abroad, whether that be a summer, semester or year. Throughout that time, you’ll need enough money to pay for food, transportation, gifts, entertainment, travel, etc. Don’t forget that you’ll need an emergency amount of money, just in case.

Other Budgeting Tips for a Semester Abroad

Now that your budget is taking shape, it’s time to consider how you can make sure your money lasts throughout your entire study abroad experience. Some budgeting tips for a semester abroad include:

  • Cook your own food whenever you can. Eating out can be expensive and quickly adds up. Cooking for yourself allows you to conduct price comparisons for your groceries and control your portions, so you’re not wasteful. Plus, you can set a strict per-day budget for daily eating and drinking, if desired.
  • Consider what cities, countries and attractions you want to see while abroad. How will you get there? Where will you stay when you’re at these destinations?
  • If you’re going somewhere that’s credit-card-friendly, you must call your credit card company first before departing for your studies or using the card. Some credit card issuers assume a credit card has been stolen if it’s suddenly used for purchases outside of the nation.
  • Overall, just look for ways to save money when studying abroad. For example, if you’re studying in Europe and plan to travel, don’t stay in hotels; instead stay in clean, affordable youth hostels. This will help you maintain a tight budget and allow you to see most of the top spots on your list. Another way to save money is to find student discounts. They’re available in many places, and they can lower your out-of-pocket costs.

Most importantly, don’t spend all your money at once! It’s tempting to do everything the first few weeks you are in your new city, but resist that temptation. By adhering to your budget, you’ll find the experience much more rewarding.

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The views and opinions expressed in these blog entries are those of the contributors and do not necessarily reflect the views of BCA Study Abroad, the organization's staff, and/or other contributors to this website.

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