How to Create a Budget for Your Semester Abroad

If you’re planning to study abroad, you’ll have to take some time to think about practical matters related to your living situation. You’ll be far from home, which means you won’t have the same resources available to you if you run into financial trouble. This guide can help you create a frugal budget to help you ensure you’ll have the money to meet your needs throughout your stay in a foreign country.
Know What’s Included
When you join a program that provides the opportunity to study in Canada or another foreign country, it can help to read the fine print. Each program is different in terms of what it includes, so it’s essential to find out exactly which expenses will be covered in the program. For example, some schools offer to cover relocation expenses, while others require students to find their own way. Additionally, you may have to buy some of your own furnishings and appliances even if you’re offered furnished housing. A television, microwave, and other appliances likely won’t be included.
Keep Your U.S. Bank Account
It will be up to you to decide whether you’ll open an account with a bank in the foreign country in which you’ll be living. Unless you plan to pick up a part-time job, it probably makes more sense to keep your U.S. bank account as the only one you’ll use. In making that decision, you should make sure you can access your funds without having to pay costly foreign exchange rates. Most major U.S. banks offer this service for free, but some do charge hefty fees. Additionally, be sure your bank makes a notation in your account that you will be accessing your account from a different country. This will save you the hassle of having your account frozen due to unusual activity.
Create a Detailed Budget
You’ll be less likely to run out of money during your stay abroad if you create an accurate budget. People tend to create budgets that are unrealistically tight only to get frustrated when they find it impossible to stick to that financial plan. You should make a list of all of the expenses you expect to incur except those included in your tuition package. Include everything from bus fare to groceries. Don’t forget to include the money you will use for recreation, such as money for drinks and the occasional night of dining out. This will help you determine how much money you’ll need, and you’ll be better able to see where you can cut costs.
Bring a Credit Card With You
Although you shouldn’t use your credit card for run-of-the-mill purchases, it is a good idea to bring one with you. As look for the right card, be sure to limit your search to those that won’t charge extra fees for using them in foreign countries. You should also look for a card that offers rewards or points on purchases. Ideally, you should only use your card for financial emergencies. Try to save it for the last few weeks of your stay abroad to ensure you’ll have access to that extra resource if you do need it.
Take Advantage of Free Resources
As you explore the culture in your new community, pay attention to announcements about free activities and resources that are available to anyone. For example, you could volunteer to work two or three days in a community soup kitchen. In addition to helping locals who are in need of a hot meal, you’ll also be able to get a couple of free meals a week. You can look for free activities, such as music concerts or art exhibits to help you enjoy your time without spending money unnecessarily. By taking advantage of these activities, you’ll get the most out of your time in a foreign city without spending money that you could use for more essential services.
If you take the time to plan your finances in advance, you’ll be helping yourself to have a more enjoyable time as you study abroad. A more detailed budget will help you account for everything, while also preventing you from overspending. As a result, you’ll have the money you need to cover the essentials, and you’ll have something left over to enable you to enjoy your time experiencing a new culture.

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