Sticking to a budget is difficult for a student, especially when you're in a foreign location. On top of accommodation and studying expenses, you'll want extra money for social situations and exploring your new home. Sightseeing, day trips, events, or even going back home to see your family during study breaks will be expensive but worthy activities. To ensure you are managing your budget, follow these four budgeting tips for international students.
Plan your expenses
Before you start spending, or even before you arrive in your destination, plan your budget. Even rough estimates of total income, expendable income and expenses is a good start. There will be costs that are considered essential, such as accommodation, study costs, and food, and non-essential costs like going to the movies with friends.
Plan your budget over a set period: a week, a fortnight or a month. It’s a good idea to set aside a small amount of money each time you get your income for an emergency, or in case you lose something important like a phone, wallet or passport. If you really struggle planning a budget, try using a smartphone application.
Many educational institutions will have financial services on campus. There you can find consultants whose role is to provide financial assistance to students. As well as supporting you in the process of planning a budget, they can also provide information about part-time work options and give handy budgeting tips.
Look for part-time work
If the country you're visiting is like Australia, your student visa will grant you the opportunity to work. Before you choose the location in which you study, see what a student visa allows you to do; it will be a bonus if you can earn money while you study. Not only will working fund your time away from home, you can also gain work experience, practice a new language and meet new people.
Trying to get work relevant to your study would be ideal. Often, lecturers will be looking for students to aid them with work. Becoming an assistant to a lecturer will give you a great upper hand. In some countries, international students will have restrictions on how many hours they can work per week. Do some research before committing to a job. And remember - make sure you leave time for study!
Look for cheaper options
Cheaper alternatives are everywhere. Going out of your way to find the cheaper option can save you lots. Look for second hand text books instead of buying brand new. Look for accommodation that suits you; if staying on campus is too expensive, find a cheaper share house that doesn’t have food and other expenses included. An accommodation services team will be able to provide you with information about the full range of accommodation options and prices to help you find something that suits your budget.
There will always be student deals that will help you save. If you are meeting friends for lunch or coffee, try campus cafes where food and coffee is cheaper. When you're shopping for clothes or even signing up to a gym, do the research and see what kind of deals a student can get. Make sure you get proper student identification as most businesses will want some proof you are a student. Identification will also be essential for getting cheaper transport.
Search and apply for third party scholarships
Research the availability of scholarships at your university. Your university and other organisations may have small scholarships available for international students. Apply for as many as you can. Even saving $500 on accommodation could make a great difference. If the scholarship is relatively unknown, you may be one of very few applicants, having a great chance to be successful.
There is always opportunity to save money. Successfully living on a budget will depend on your effort and commitment. Remember, if you get a good job and work as much as possible, you will be earning more and spending less. Get help from others and don’t be afraid to ask for discounts and freebies whenever possible.