5 Money Saving Tips when Living Abroad​

Chances are that if you’re a student studying abroad, saving money is at the forefront of your mind! No one wants to work a job when they’re studying in a different country, so you’ve probably got to live off your savings or an allowance your parents give you. Naturally, the less you have to pay for the necessities, the more spending money and more fun you’ll have! If you’re trying to ponder ways to save money whilst away, look no further. We’ve put together an article with some of the most useful money-saving tips for students studying abroad!

1. Rethink Your Banking

Before you take off on your big overseas adventure, you’re probably going to want to take a look at something you often overlook: your bank account. Banks can be really sneaky when it comes to the fees they charge you! One fee that doesn’t seem like much is the foreign transaction fee. If you’re paying foreign transaction fees over the course of a semester, there’s a good chance you’re essentially donating a hefty sum of money to the bank. No one wants that! 

How do you get around foreign transaction fees? Well, there are a couple ways. One way is to open a bank in the country you’re studying in. Doing this will afford you the ease and convenience of being able to deal with bankers face to face, if you choose to do so. However, you still might pay up for foreign transaction fees if you leave the country you’re staying in.

Another option is to use Curve. Curve takes things to a new level with many cool features you actually want. You can link all your cards and accounts together onto one card i.e. Monzo, Santander and your savings account. It has super favourable exchange rates when abroad & 1% cash back on all spending. If you upgrade to the premium, you can access travel insurance and phone insurance.

2. Research Student Assistance Programs

All throughout the world, there are programs to help students out. Everyone knows that students are strapped for cash and might not have time to work whilst studying. That is why there are countless organizations dedicated to helping students out! Organizations like the CAF (Caisse des Allocations Familiales) in France have programs that help students pay for living expenses (such as rent, in CAF’s case). These programs have different names depending on where you go, so be sure to do your research. An hour doing some google searching could potentially save you thousands.

3. Take Full Advantage of Your Student Discounts

If you’ve never used a student discount before, you’re really missing out, and you’d be surprised how many merchants out there have student discounts. Some of them are pretty big too! You can use your student ID for discounts at the cinema, the Apple store, and almost everywhere in between! However, when studying abroad your regular student ID might not be accepted, for a variety of reasons. This is where the ISIC card comes in. The ISIC (International Student Identity Card) is an internationally recognised student ID card that can get you a discount at over 150,000 locations across the world! They’ve got partnerships with everyone from KFC to Hotels.com, so there is bound to be a discount you can take advantage of.

4. Live Like a Local

Unfortunately, the cost of living like a tourist quickly adds up. Going out to eat at the trendiest restaurants on Instagram every weekend will lead to a dwindling bank account after a while. How do you balance having fun, good quality food, and some money left over in the bank? Look to the locals! If you really want to get the most out of your money, you should always pay attention to what the locals are doing and where they’re going. No matter where you go in the world, locals will always know how to get the best bang for your buck. You’ll also be able to get off the beaten track, experiencing authentic food and culture that regular tourists just won’t see. They will know everything from the best hole in the wall restaurant, to the best ways of getting around town. Just taking a few pages out of their playbook could save you a ton of money!

5. Ditch Your Old Phone Bill

Whatever you do, don’t use your phone provider from your home country if you’re studying abroad! Unless they are waiving most/all international fees (e.g. Three), chances are that you can use a local carrier and get better service for a lower cost. Not to mention, there are often small benefits to using a local carrier while abroad. For instance, in some countries, cell phone providers don’t charge for data used by Facebook and its affiliated apps. If you’re staying in a country where providers have a program like this, you can save quite a bit of cash by going with a plan with less data. Additionally, never call home using a phone! These calls can be costly and there are tons of free alternatives out there. Apps like Skype and Whatsapp make staying in touch with your loved ones back home incredibly easy and convenient.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Use a budgeting app to help you keep your finances in check.

2. Take time to volunteer or do a WorkAway to save money on accommodation and food.

3. Cooking in hostels is a great way to save money instead of going out to restaurants.

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