Studying abroad budgeting (and budgeting in general) can often be stressful because it forces you to become accountable for how and where your money will go. Whether you are planning to spend a semester abroad or in it the long haul to get a degree overseas, money is a factor that cannot be ignored.
To make matters worse, in a global economy that is fragile post-COVID, inflation and looming recessions are sure to put a much tighter squeeze on finances, even for students who are receiving assistance from their families. Here are four tips to help you create a recession-friendly study abroad budget that is realistic, yet will still allow you to live and do amazing things while away.
1. Make a complete list of your current student expenses
To move forward and have a positive impact on your finances for your upcoming adventure abroad, we must start with the here and now. It’s time to determine exactly what you spend your money on. For some students, you may be working part-time (or even full-time) simply to pay tuition with the rest of the money going into savings for your study abroad dreams.
Others may receive an allowance from their family, but have certain monthly bills such as a car note (and insurance) or shared utilities if you’re living off-campus with a roommate. And of course, there’s everything else from nights out with friends, travel, clothing, subscriptions, potentially healthcare, and everything else in between.
Write it all down.
And when you write it down, also include how much it costs you on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis. For many students that I have advised, completing this activity was the first time they honestly evaluated their finances. It can be enlightening and also encouraging.
2. Deciding Between Needs and Wants for Study Abroad
This is a tough one for most students (and people in general!) but since we’re leveling in truth here, there is a big difference between a “Need” and a “Want” especially when it comes to studying abroad. For this particular exercise, I want you to go through the list you just created and establish the difference for each item you included.
Cellphones, Laptops, and Insurance are ‘Needs’ for a semester away. Additional money to travel each weekend, get daily lattes on the way to class, and extra shopping money are “Wants” (although I’d be willing to hear a case or two about the need to have balance in your life – trust me I’ve been there too!).
3. Categorize Your Study Abroad Needs and Wants
Ah yes, a good ole ranking – who does not love one? For this particular practice though, we are focusing more on being truthful with ourselves in acknowledging the difference between a need and a want. For study abroad students, there are generally three areas of a budget that you can factor in:
Daily Necessities – These items are what I like to say is ‘anything that can be covered with pocket money’ for both expected and unexpected things as you are out and about living your life while abroad.
Weekly/Bi-weekly Non-Negotiables – Some Daily Necessities are also weekly non-negotiables, but others, depending on how they need to be purchased or paid for, may fall under this category. These may include any contribution you make to the bills (if you live with roommates), weekly food shopping, transportation to and from campus, etc.
Semester Must-Haves – These are going to be bigger ticket items that are usually purchased at the beginning or in the middle of your semester that you will need to have a successful study abroad experience, BUT that will not be part of your weekly/monthly expenses. These may include software for your classes, a new laptop or phone, visa expenses, or even bulk tickets to and from your host destination.
Interested in learning more about how to create a recession-friendly study abroad budget? Click the video below:
Do you have a plan for your study abroad budget yet? What expenses are you most concerned about maintaining? LEAVE A COMMENT!
Known as The Study Abroad Specialist, Kimber Grayson is a serial-study abroader turned International Education coach and expert. Since 2014, she has helped 100+ students navigate their semester away journey from the coastal areas of Spain to China and every place in between. In 2018, she launched The LiveStudyLearn™ Abroad Association, a one-of-a-kind online membership platform for study abroad students worldwide.
She holds two Master's degrees from two well-respected London-based universities and has experience working in the US, UK & and Italy.
In her spare time (what's that again?), she enjoys leisure travel city breaks, any snow-based activity, skeet shooting, and attempting to learn new languages.