So, you’re just about to start your study abroad time. It could be a summer school (like me), a semester, or a year. Regardless of the timescale, the same problem arises: how do I budget effectively and avoid coming back broke as ever? Having spent a month in Sweden, one of the most expensive Scandinavian countries, and travelled around a bit while I was out there, I wanted to share my best tips and tricks. Trust me, you’ll thank me later.
Get a good bank account
I’m not saying ‘good’ as in an amazing interest rate on savings, an interest free overdraft… Those kind of things aren’t really necessary short term. I managed to get an amazing account for my time abroad, it had no international fees and the app is amazing and easy to use while abroad.
I mean ‘good’ in the sense that it updates quickly, it tells you the breakdown of your spending and has more practical features than just your bog standard high street bank account. Does that make sense? My study abroad account had features that allow me to allocate my spending into categories such as groceries, clothing, and socials. That way I can keep track of what I’m spending but, more importantly, what I’m spending it on. This way, I can budget accordingly because I become very, very aware of my own spending habits.
Be realistic about budgeting
One of the things I did before I went on my study abroad was think of all the areas that would cost me money: food, drinks, socials, activities. I had saved hard all year and I genuinely thought I had budgeted enough for each of these areas. I wasn’t being mean to myself but also wasn’t budgeting money I didn’t have. Oh how wrong I was. Naturally, I went over budget. Not by lots and lots, but it was definitely noticeable.
So, my next piece of advice would be to stay realistic. When trying to have the time of your life, the last thing you want to think about is how much money you have to spend. My best advice would always be, just do it, you won’t have the opportunity again. However, with this in mind, it is perhaps wise to expect and accept to go over budget and have some savings that you can fall back on when you’re out there, if necessary.
It’s totally normal to go over budget, it happens to all of us, you should never beat yourself up about it. Being realistic, that yes, some things will cost more abroad and there will be random experiences with new friends that you need to have (I’m all for random trips to new countries last minute !!), will hopefully allow you to not feel guilty or worried, feelings that can definitely ruin a time abroad. Nobody wants that, right?
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