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Smart Budget Tips for International Students


— September 6, 2018

One of your dreams is finally coming true, and you’re about to study in a completely new environment. The sense of freedom and adventure is probably overwhelming, but once the excitement starts to wear off, you’ll probably begin thinking about the more practical things, like your budget. After all, you’re entering a different culture with different prices, so you’ll need to know how to adapt in order not to struggle. So, to help you keep your budget under control, here are a couple of budgeting tips for international students.


One of your dreams is finally coming true, and you’re about to study in a completely new environment. The sense of freedom and adventure is probably overwhelming, but once the excitement starts to wear off, you’ll probably begin thinking about the more practical things, like your budget. After all, you’re entering a different culture with different prices, so you’ll need to know how to adapt in order not to struggle. So, to help you keep your budget under control, here are a couple of budgeting tips for international students.

Do some research

First things first, do some research even before you set off. Whether your destination is the USA or Australia, you can always get a rough idea of how much it costs to live there. You should learn as much as you can about the accommodation costs, the prices of groceries, and how to use the public transport. You should know about the fun stuff as well, like the price of cinema tickets or an average night out, so you can plan your budget more easily.

If you happen to know somebody who’s lived in the country of your destination, you can always ask them about such details. Even if you don’t, there are many expat and student groups on social media, so don’t be afraid to meet new people who can help you out.

Kid saving money for future; royalty free image on RawPixel.
Kid saving money for future; royalty free image on RawPixel.

Set a budget

Once you arrive at your destination, don’t act like a tourist and buy everything you like. Take your time to settle down and get to know the place. After all, you’ll be there for a while, so there’s no need to rush.

After the first week, try to write down everything you’ve spent on, no matter how cheap. It’ll give you an idea of how much money you’ll need every week and how much you can afford to spend on the less necessary things, like coffee, snacks, or takeout.

Once you do come up with a suitable budget plan, you should stick to it. If you know that you’ll need a bit more money one week, try to save up the week before or the following week, so your monthly budget stays balanced.

Find an online job

A great way to feel more comfortable with your budget is to actually have a source of income (other than your parents or scholarship). Of course, considering you’re a student in another country, you probably want to show your dedication through studying and engaging in social activities. This will take a lot of your free time, but there are still ways to earn money that won’t hurt your studying habits. For example, you can do online surveys, you can be a freelance writer, or you can teach a language via Skype. Such online jobs would allow you to organize your time the way it suits you, and you’d feel much better knowing that you’re not only spending money but also earning it. WebEmployed has several articles you may find helpful.

Ask the locals

One of the best ways to save money is to live like locals do. This means that instead of eating at the first restaurant you like or buying your coffee at the place that is the closest to your home, you should get a bit more familiar with your environment. Ask the locals about the best places to eat, drink, and shop. Ask them if they have any useful tips for you, and look for local discounts. Also, keep in mind that as a student, you can get many student discounts by using your university card.

Another great way to connect with the local community is to use their online platforms. For instance, if you are going to the Land Down Under, it might be a good idea to check out Thinkswap. It’s an online platform that can help you find the best study notes, like examples of Melbourne uni past exams, which is bound to make your international experience much easier.

Organize your time

You know what they say – time is money. So, in order to save up and earn some money, you should organize your time as well. Depending on your university schedule, you should always have enough time for studying, working online if you do have a job, and relaxing in the evening. Moreover, during your study and work hours, there should be no distractions.

To make organizing time and money easier, you should also consider making checklists. They can come in handy not just for determining your study hours but also for grocery shopping and organizing your budget at the beginning of every week or month.

Going to study abroad is a wonderful and exciting opportunity that you will cherish for the rest of your life. So, to be able to enjoy it to the fullest, make sure you are well organized and informed.

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