Whether you’re the parent of a teenager pursuing their post-secondary education overseas, or an expat student yourself, budgeting your finances can be a challenge.
Even the most financially savvy among us can start studying abroad with the best of fiscal intentions but then succumb to temptations like foreign foods, fashion, and fun.
Perhaps you are attending the Sorbonne University in Paris, Oxford in London, or Technical University in Munich. Wherever you’re off to in your quest for knowledge and experience, you’ll need to manage your euros, pounds, dollars, or pesos wisely.
Need help? We’ve gathered some excellent insights on money management for studying overseas.
1. Determine How Much Money You Really Have to Work With
Are you self-funding your education abroad, or do you have support from family and friends? If you’re counting on a student loan, you should investigate government policies for lending to students who plan to go to college or university in a foreign country. Government rates and terms tend to be more favorable than banks.
If you’re are from the U.K. or other European countries, repayment often doesn’t begin until a student achieves a certain salary threshold.
It may surprise you to learn that international students are eligible for scholarships and prizes. Do your research on any scholarship programs abroad that you may be eligible, and apply for as many as are applicable. Many scholarships are merit-based, while others are sponsored by businesses. Thousands of scholarships go unawarded around the world every year because nobody applies for them. Don’t leave money on the table because you assume your marks aren’t good enough.
2. Decide How Many of Your U.S. Dollars You Want to Convert to Start With
With all the excitement of beginning the adventure of studying abroad, it can be tempting to go to your nearest bank, exchange your dollars for your destination currency, and give the teller a big hug before you depart. Banks usually charge significant fees for sending money abroad, and their exchange rates can erode your savings. Using a pure-play international money transfer provider like XE is a great way to save your hard-earned money.
There are several reasons why you shouldn’t exchange all your money at once, including:
- Exchange rates fluctuate over time, and you could pay more for the foreign currency than the interest you could make on your savings.
- If you use a credit card for some expenses, it could save you money to pay your bill with your U.S. dollars.
- The easier it is to access your money, the faster you will spend it.
Take a look at historical exchange rate trends of your base currency (U.S. dollars) compared to the quote currency which is used in your destination country. You can find exchange rates going back five years on XE’s Currency Charts for every currency in the world and use this to help make decisions about how much currency you exchange at once.
3. Immerse Yourself in Your New Environment— But Pace Yourself
Embarking a new adventure like becoming an international student is exciting. You may find yourself wanting to explore your new country every weekend and take it all in quickly. Yet keeping to your budget is important. Track your savings and expenses in an app like:
- Mint from Intuit
- YNAB (You Need A Budget)
- The XE Travel Expense Calculator
- iMetro (to find the cheapest transportation options)
If you’re starting school overseas in a country like France, Germany, Australia, or Italy, it’s natural to want to get out and get touristy. Yet by gradually going on excursions throughout your school career, you can find interesting ways to see the world while saving money.
Maybe you’ll make new friends who are native to the country where you’re going to school. They may be happy to act as your “tour guide” and chaperone you around the famous landmarks and “tourist traps. Locals often also know of amazing places that may not be in the travel magazines but are just as amazing to behold, if not more so. You should also investigate the different student special interest groups and events you can access with your student ID card.
Are you preparing to begin a new life as an international student? Need an affordable, reliable and secure service for international money transfer to establish your finances for studying abroad?