Advice

10 tips to stretch your student budget

Studying abroad can be one of the most life enriching decisions you will ever make. It can also seem costly but there are ways to avoid it turning into a bank account-depleting experience. Here are some tips to stretch out your pounds, dollars and euros so you do not go broke before you are ready to return home.

Finance

Research loans, grants, fellowships and other sources for funding your study abroad experience. Leave no stone unturned; there may be sponsors in your hometown, such as Rotary Club, with scholarships available to worthy students.

Housing

Think creatively about housing. Your monthly rent will be the biggest expense line in your budget. Sharing a flat with others is a great way to cut your cost. If you can share with native speakers, all the better. Not only will you split the rent, your language skills will improve quickly.

A home stay is another way to save on rent and set-up costs. With a little luck, the host family will let you use their washer/internet/kitchen facilities. You could end up forming a lifelong friendship and a permanent foothold in your host country.

Eat in

Food is another budget line, which can quickly get out of hand if you don't know where to go. Preparing your meals at home is one of the cheapest ways to fill your stomach but sometimes you want to be more social. Student restaurants, attached to the universities, are a great way to eat for cheap and meet other students.

Public transport

Check out the best public transport deals. By doing some internet research, you can find the transport pass that suits your needs. The general rule is if you will be using public transport more than twice a day, you should not be buying individual tickets. Study the options and see what makes best financial sense: weekly, monthly and academic year passes are all available in most European cities.

Communicate

Use internet-based communication tools rather than calling back home with your telephone, set up a Skype account so you can talk for free via the internet. Do not waste your mobile phone minutes; send instant messages, a text or communicate via Facebook to meet up with local friends.

Student ID

When visiting museums, cinemas, exhibits, even some shops, make sure you get your student card out. Many places have free or reduced-price entry and other discounts for students but they aren't always advertised, so you just need to ask!

Hostel not hotel

When travelling, stay in hostels, not hotels. You can book these online to be sure to have a spot secured upon arrival. If you have an ISIC or other internationally recognised student card you can often benefit from further discounts.

Travel

Never pay full price when booking your travel. Use the budget airlines or, if travelling by train, always show your student ID for a reduced rate ticket. Search the internet for promo codes before you book, you'll be amazed what you can find.

Research

Research typical in-country costs before leaving your home country. You may want to pack enough clothing, toiletries and other basic items so you don't have to purchase these at a higher cost in your host country.

Bank accounts

Before you leave it is worth looking into opening a new account with a bank that doesn't charge for international withdrawals or do some research into which cash machines you can use for free through your existing bank. Your local branch should be able to give you details.


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