Before you finally be able to pack your bag for your new adventure of studying abroad, first you need to make sure you are financially prepared.
Creating a budget is the most important financial aspect of a student’s life. It is important that you know very well how, what, when, and where you need to spend your money once you are abroad, and plan accordingly.
So, how to budget as an international student and preparing your study abroad? Keep scrolling…
Studying abroad can be expensive, especially if you study in a country with high living costs. Running out of money in a foreign country where you are practically on your own, without your family and friends is going to be a disaster.
Thus, planning your finance carefully, managing your budget, and learning to live within your means or even less can avoid you from having financial trouble in a foreign land.
Here are a few tips on how to prepare your study abroad budget and be financially prepared:
1. Calculate the Costs
To be able to calculate the costs, first, you’ll need to know what are the expenses you’ll have to cover for your study abroad.
Bear in mind that you need to be as precise as possible. Calculate everything, starting from the expenses you’ll have to pay from your preparation phase (before you even go), to the potential expenses you’ll need to spend throughout your study abroad, and after graduation.
For example, during the preparation phase, your expenses could be paying for documents translation, legalization, tests fees (such as GMAT, GRE, IELTS, or TOEFL), and so on.
Then there will be the visa application fees, travel insurance, plane tickets et cetera. Or maybe you are using an agency to help you out with the documents, thus, you’ll need to pay for their fees as well, which most likely will not going to be cheap.
Don’t forget about your applications themselves. Some universities ask for entrance or admission fees. Others will ask for 1st installment of the tuition fee payment to be paid before you even step foot on your study destination and so on.
Then you will have to translate and legalize your documents such as your diploma and transcripts from your previous education, your birth certificate, your marriage certificate, and your spouse and child(ren) birth certificates if you are an adult student and a non-traditional student mom and dad who wish to bring your family abroad with you, and so on.
After that, you’ll still need to calculate your monthly living expenses. thus, you’ll know how much money you are going to need throughout your study period.
If you plan to stay after graduation to try to look for a job, you’ll need to calculate the living expenses while waiting to get a job too. Set goals on how many months you could stay without having a permanent job yet and prepare the amount needed to support you during those months.
You would be surprised by how many small things you’ll need to prepare and budget for your study abroad. They are so easy to overlook and if you are not careful, those small things could add up to a big amount.
I studied abroad before, I knew exactly how difficult it was to budget for your study abroad and be financially prepared. That’s why I created this workbook.
It’s an excel spreadsheet budget tracker that you could use to track your expenses and manage your budget. If you are clueless about what type of expenses you’ll need to budget, then this tracker will be useful for you.
This done-for-you spreadsheet has everything you need to estimate your study abroad expenses. Starting from the preparation phase such as the kind of expenses you’ll need to spend during document preparation, student visa application, your expenses before departure, and so on, all the way to the list of monthly expenses (utility bills, groceries, internet package et cetera) that you could use throughout your study period.
Not only you’ll get yourself a done-for-you list, but you could also record your own expenses throughout your study abroad journey.
Just put in the amount of money you spend on certain expenses in their designated places (e.g Birth Certificate Translation: $50), and any changes will be adjusted automatically. You could also modify them according to your need.
2. List Your Potential Income
Once you get an estimation of how much money you’ll need for your study abroad, you need to figure out how you are going to pay for it.
List your potential income and add up the amount. Is your personal savings alone will be sufficient to finance your study abroad? Do you need an extra source of income? What are they? Are you going to apply for scholarships? or perhaps you plan to apply for a federal loan?
After you list your potential income, you should compare them with the cost estimation you made earlier (as mentioned above in point number 1, calculate your budget).
Is your potential income could cover all the expenses you are going to spend throughout your study? If not, what are your plans to cover them? Are you going to apply for another scholarship or a government loan?
As you are going to study abroad, it’s also important to consider the differences in currency exchange rates when preparing for your study financially.
Spare some margin to anticipate exchange rate fluctuations. Especially if you receive a scholarship from your government since it means you will receive funds from overseas regularly.
Because of these rate fluctuations, there will be some months where you receive more than usual, and there will be other months where you receive less.
3. Sell Your Things
This could be a solution for you, especially if you are only a little short in your study abroad funding. Make list and start collecting all your possession that you no longer need, at least the ones you won’t need while you are abroad studying. You could sell your car, for example.
You won’t be needing them anyway since you’ll be abroad for several years and can’t bring them with you. If you need one once you are home and finish with your study, you could always buy yourself a new one anyway.
Another way is to sell most of your belonging in a garage sale. Living abroad can change plenty of things, including your lifestyle.
Most likely by the time you return home, you are not going to need plenty of the things you owned before, because you never used them during your study abroad since it wasn’t available in your host country. Therefore, now you don’t see the need for those things anymore.
4. Allocate Some Budget for Emergencies
When preparing your study abroad budget, don’t forget to allocate some emergency funds (in the budget tracker, I put the option “other expenses” in each worksheet as something unexpected might happen and in the end could make us end up spending money we don’t have).
Being alone in a foreign country, or having your young family abroad with you if you are an adult student and a student mom or dad, having an emergency budget is a must, since you won’t be surrounded by friends and family who could help you out whenever you need it.
5. Stick to Your Budget
Record your regular monthly expenses (you could use the monthly expenses tracker here) and stick to them. If you spend more than you could afford, try your best to cut back on your expenses.
List all the things you need and the things you want. Make a detailed list of your necessities and your spending. Afterward, you should be able to see clearly which ones you can cut to keep your budget balanced and under control. Stick to what you have written on your list. If it’s not on the list then you are not going to buy them.
You can manage all your accounts from one place and also ensure timely payment of your bills. Please pay good care of this since delaying payment of your bills could cost you extra expenses to pay for the fine.
6. Find Ways to Save More Money
Go through your expenses list again and see if there’s a way to save more money. Use the 80/20 rule by spending 80 percent of your money on things you need and 20 percent on the things you want.
I know it can be hard, but I’ve been there. I tried so hard to save money while studying abroad and brought my family with me (if you are interested to know more, I wrote a detailed blog post on how I lived in Italy with my family of three with only roughly a thousand euros per month)
The key is, to be honest with yourself about what you should spend on and where you can save. Most likely, you’ll find some of the things that you thought you need are actually some things you want, and in the end, you will be able to cut back your expenses.
As for the things that you actually need, you may want to set a monthly limit for each category and aim not to overspend.
7. Increase Your Income by Working Part-time During Your Study
There’s a reason why I put this option at the bottom of the list. That’s because, for me, it should be the last resort to help you finance your study abroad.
I wouldn’t recommend prioritizing paid work over your studies. If you really have to work to help to support your study financially, try to find flexible work that will fit around your schedules and responsibilities at school.
One of the things you need to pay attention to if you want to work during your study abroad is the rules and regulations of your host country. Before you look for a job, check the rules regarding working on your student visa. Every country has different rules. Make sure you comply with it.
Don’t take any risk by breaking the rules, like working more than the number of working hours per week that is allowed on your student visa. This is a serious violation and whatever the additional work payment you’ll get from this extra work, it will not be going to be worth the risks.
Over to You…
One of the most important aspects of studying overseas is budgeting, especially when you are an adult student and student mom/dad. It is important for you to be aware of your finances and spending habits.
This becomes even more important since by studying overseas, you’ll be far away from home and from your usual support systems such as your families and friends.
Use the following tips to keep on top of your budgeting needs; calculate the costs, list your potential income, sell your things, stick to your budget and allocate some for emergencies, find ways to save more money, and increase your income by working part-time during your study, but only do it as a last resort.
Budgeting can be daunting and an intimidating process, but if you keep track of all your expenses and regularly assess your spending habits, you’ll find that it’s easier than you might expect, and you’ll be able to enjoy your study abroad adventure without worrying too much about your financial situation.
What do you think? Do you have any tips on how to prepare your budget for studying overseas? Share them in the comment section down below
Pin this for later and share them on social media, who knows it might help someone out there in their budgeting plan…thanks so much, and till next time!!!
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- 7 Promising Jobs You Could Do While Studying Abroad
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