Unless you have a money tree in your backyard or are one of the few who do enjoy such financial freedom, you will probably need to plan in advance for footing your study abroad bill. While your friends’ cool pictures of wildlife in Namibia, epic mountain landscapes in Austria, or steaming hot dumplings in China do much for inspiring your travels, they do very little to prepare you for the financial commitment you’ll have to make in order to get there. Even if your study abroad experience is your most expensive purchase to date, preparing for it really shouldn’t feel troubling. With proper planning and with time on your side, you’ll be able to finance your trip abroad no sweat.
Below are 5 tips to help you prepare financially for your time abroad:
1. Get a rough financial estimate.
Before you start saving for your study abroad experience, you’ll need to decide what your end savings goal is. The overall cost of studying abroad varies depending on a number of different factors, including length and location. Different universities also utilise different methods of structuring study abroad programmes, which, in turn, directly affects the overall cost burden for students.
You should begin discussing your study abroad goals with their academic advisors, your university study abroad advisor, and your parents early on. Even if you’ve yet to decide exactly where you want to go, these conversations can start giving you a ballpark estimation of how much out-of-pocket expenses you will incur.
Again, you don’t actually have to have officially chosen your study abroad programme before you start saving. It’s good to do a bit of field research to see what potential costs you’ll have, but actually deciding which programme you’ll participate in can come later.
2. Make a study abroad budget plan.
Assuming you’ve already weighed up the pros and cons of the different types of study abroad programmes available to you and what each means for your wallet, you can now get a jump start on saving for your study abroad programme.
3. Budget a little extra.
Consider the numbers you have used in your worksheet an under-estimation. Why? Because your life abroad might be more expensive than you expect. Save as much money as possible before you go overseas; this way, you’ll be able to relax and absorb your new life.
4. Follow the study abroad savings timeline.
Preparing a year in advance for your study abroad semester is ideal. While it can be done in a shorter time span, 12 months allows students to save and prepare at a leisurely pace. There are a number of different conversations, planning meetings, and shopping trips that need to happen as you budge. It may sound extreme, but you should start saving money at least one year before your trip. Save yourself undue stress by putting a small amount of money away with every paycheck.
5. Small changes, big rewards.
We get it, you’re young, and being financially responsible isn’t usually the first thing that comes to mind when you wake up in the morning. Even so, there are a number of ways you can cut back in your everyday life that add up to big savings over a long period of time.
Invite friends over instead of going out, and cut back on the drinks, lattes, etc. Why not try repairing your clothes instead of always replacing them? Avoid using shopping as a method for de-stressing. No matter which savings schemes you adopt to make your study abroad dreams come true, always try to look at the bigger picture. You’re learning the skill of budgeting, saving, and financial planning, which will be useful forever. The accomplishment you will feel upon boarding that plane home will be incomparable to anything you’ve felt before.
In conclusion, study abroad, much like college itself, should be looked at as an investment in your future.