Studying Abroad? 5 Tips for Managing Your Finances Without Breaking a Sweat
Much like working or traveling abroad, studying in a different country can be an exciting but at times overwhelming experience.
With mobility on the rise (more than 1.5 million students were studying in a country different from their own in 2017 just in the EU), there are numerous resources to help you accommodate and make the best of your learning experience abroad.
As a student abroad, you’ll have the much-anticipated fun, you’ll meet new people, and you’ll discover cultures and places. And, from time to time, you’ll be confronted with unknowns, uncertainty, and homesickness.
Being away from family and friends for a long time can put a strain on you, but there are quite a few things to help you reduce stress. The number one thing to take off your mind? Money.
In this article, we share our five tips to help you manage your finances as easily as possible and keep your costs under control when studying abroad.
#1 Know what to expect
While most of your research will naturally be focused on study programs, learning opportunities, accommodation, and culture discovery, don’t underestimate the more pragmatic aspects of your trip.
Take some time to familiarize with your local bank’s policies — especially if you’ll be traveling to a country that uses a different currency. A few things to consider are:
- What will your bank charge you ATM withdrawals?
- What taxes and fees can you expect when paying with your debit or credit card?
- What exchange rates can you expect when paying locally?
This will help you make important decisions about how you will manage your money while abroad and how to avoid some hidden costs in your day-to-day transactions.
Double currency conversion might be one such cost that you are not aware of. It occurs when currency exchange takes place twice over the course of the same transaction, usually between accounts based in countries that have different local currencies.
Read more about double currency conversion so you can anticipate and avoid hidden fees.
#2 Consider opening a local bank account
Opening a local bank account usually helps reduce the fees of most transactions that you’ll be making locally. If you are getting financial support from your learning institution, such as a monthly scholarship, a local bank account might even be required.
If you do open an account with a local bank, pay careful attention when transferring money from your home bank account to your new account — this might bring on additional costs from currency exchange or bank transfer fees.
Several money transfer services and apps (such as Fin.do) are available for you to transfer money quickly between your own accounts and avoid incurring the high costs you might get from a bank-to-bank transfer. You can check out some alternatives here.
#3 Share expenses
Sharing some of your expenses (such as for accommodation, travel, or going out) is a great way not only to save money but also to build and consolidate lasting friendships. What better way to bond than sharing experiences far from your home with someone far from theirs?
When it comes to the logistics of it, cash might be the easiest way to go. A cleaner and more organized way would be to use one of the many instant money transfer apps out there. For same-currency transfers, you’ll have nothing to worry about when it comes to speed, ease of use, and costs.
#4 Keep your funds where you can see them
The hustle and bustle of a university center can make it easier than you think to lose or have something stolen. Sometimes, all the attention in the world can’t prevent that from happening.
To be safe, don’t carry all your money on you when you go out — you can opt between cash and card, and if you own several cards, just pick one that you’d like to use.
You can of course consider using payment apps which will only require you to have your phone or another payment device (such as a watch) on you, instead of carrying a wallet full of cards and/or cash.
#5 Plan wisely
This almost goes without saying: plan ahead. Know what you will need to spend (think accommodation, books and other studying material, potential study trips, leisure, etc) so you don’t run out of money.
Getting support from home always helps — not just financially, but also with morale. But since having your family or friends visit you can’t always be possible, being organized and planning things carefully can help increase your resilience and self-reliance so you can get through tough times when you are alone.
Lastly, remember that highs and lows are natural with any new experience. Make sure you spend your time abroad focusing on what you love learning about, making connections, and enjoying new discoveries.
If you’re on the lookout for an easy-to-use, affordable money transfer app, Fin.do is trusted by many students for sending and receiving transfers while abroad. You can give it a try here.