As students, word saving doesn’t generally make its way into the students’ lifestyle. In that most students act extravagantly towards their financial dealings thus, prudency and subsistence are never their watch-word while on campus. However, we’re here to show you clear tips on possible ways to save your money as an international student.
Perfect Money-Saving Tips for International Students
These tips may not leave you rolling in money, but they should help keep your bank balance looking a little bit healthier each month!
1. Buy a second-hand course textbook:
Course textbooks can be expensive, in spite of that, there is no need to purchase every item on your reading list. You can usually borrow a set of texts from the library whenever you need them. Only buy the most important books, and even then you’ll be able to find cheap second-hand copies online or through your university. Sell them on when you’re finished with them to make back some of the costs.
2. Invest in travel cards:
Investing in travel cards will save you lots of money, especially if you are the type of person that enjoys traveling. Travel cards for subway systems, buses, trains, sometimes even flights can be available, often with extra discounts for students.
3. Live within walking distance of your school:
Most students’ houses are located fairly close to the university/college but, if possible, try to find a place to live that is within walking distance to your campus. Not only will it motivate you to turn up to your lectures, it will also save you having to pay out for a bus card or taxi every time you have to venture into campus.
4. Consider living off-campus:
It will take some calculation, but living off-campus may in fact save you money.
Next to tuition, housing is one of the biggest expenses international students face. While it may be more convenient for international students to live on campus, living off-campus provides the opportunity to save little cash, since living on campus can be quite expensive.
You may consider splitting your time between on and off-campus housing. This could allow you to adjust to life in your new country while living on campus for a while and then to live in an apartment or house for the rest of your studies. Please keep in mind that it is more affordable to have roommates to cut the cost of living, whether that be on campus or off.
5. Be smart with your food expenses:
Food will be one of your biggest costs, so it’s worth finding ways to reduce your bills. Buying supermarket value products rather than well-known brands, and shopping at the end of the day when many items are discounted, are some of the simplest ways to save money.
Where possible, you might look into cooking with your housemates or planning your meals in advance. Either way, you’ll be able to do a cost-effective ‘big shop’ at the start of each week and avoid the need for too many expensive takeaways, working on your culinary skills at the same time. You’ll also be saving money by making your own packed lunches rather than buying a sandwich or going to a coffee shop every day.
6. Look into meal options:
Most universities have dining halls or campus centers with restaurants that are available to students who live both on and off-campus. Students can choose their own meal plan from a range of options, such as a specific number of meals at a set price or an “unlimited access” option. If you have access to a kitchen you may decide not to buy a meal plan and opt to cook for yourself, which is often cheaper than a meal plan. But it’s something worth bearing in mind, especially when the temptation of getting takeaway is never too far away.
7. Shop at second-hand stores:
Second-hand stores can be excellent places to supply yourself while maintaining a bit of frugality. If you can find one, ensure you often buy goods at a far discounted rate.
8. Keep an eye out for seasonal sales:
Looking out for seasonal sales and stock clearance is a great way to save money. When looking for a bargain, timing and information are everything.
The prime sale seasons can differ from country to country, though there are often big sales after Christmas and in the New Year in most places. There are also increasing numbers of big sales online, such as Prime Day offered by Amazon. So ask around to find out when would be best to get that thing you need.
And of course, the all-important question when it comes to buying stuff- do you really need it? It might look cool or seem really interesting, but more often than not, purchasing something is just a waste of money. A good test is to leave it for a month. After that, are you still interested? If so, then get it for yourself and enjoy.
9. Use Skype to call home:
Calling home using Skype is one way international students can save money on mobile and landline calls. All you require is an internet connection, a free Skype account, and a set of headphones with a microphone attached.
If the person you are calling is also using Skype on their computer, you can talk to them for free- anywhere in the world. If you both hook up you can not only talk for free but also see each other on your computer screen for free. Even if you want to call someone who doesn’t use Skype, you can still call them on their cell phone or home phone for a very inexpensive rate.
10. Flying for less:
As an international student, it’s possible to spend thousands of dollars each year flying back home or by touring around your destination. But it is possible to find great deals on flights. For starters, Wikipedia has a list of low-cost airlines you might consider.
For example, many sites allow you to set up an alert when flights to your destination have dropped in price. Being flexible on your travel date could save you hundreds, and if you are going to have a flight with a connection, it may cost less to book a flight to your connection and then book a separate flight to your destination.
11. Utilize student discounts:
It’s important to keep in mind that there may be some extra cash in simply being an international student. Many businesses in your town may provide special rates and discounts if you present your student ID card before purchasing. If you don’t see a sign stating a business offers a student discount, make sure you ask as you may be able to save a substantial amount on entertainment, food, coffee, and more. There are also additional discount cards you can purchase like the ISIC card that can offer even deeper discounts to students.
12. Cut your own hair:
This may be a tough one for some people admittedly, but cutting your own hair can save you hundreds each year. If you wear your hair short, that will usually mean you have to get it cut more often. You can consider wearing it longer so that you don’t have to go so often. Or if you simply cannot go without cutting your hair, try and find a fellow student that is studying beauty or something similar that might be able to help you out!
13. Avoid joining a gym:
Of all the things to invest your money in, of course, good health should always be at the top of your list. But when it comes to a gym, lots of people pay a lot each month for something they hardly use. Save a little extra and instead find other ways to stay fit. Try and walk to places whenever you can. Take up running or cycling to get places, or just for fun. Or if you have a little extra money, it can often be worth the investment to buy some weights and gym equipment for your place especially, if you have the space. If your housemates are interested, share the cost.
14. Take the time to find cost-effective insurance:
If you study in the US, amongst other countries, you may have to pay quite a lot for health insurance. But wherever you study, there will be insurance to buy, whether that be travel insurance, possessions insurance or simply study abroad insurance (which covers course fees and more). So shop around and try and find yourself the best deal possible. Remember that it’s a lot better to pay a little more in insurance than having to pay thousands for medical care or because of a broken laptop.
15. Be cautious of your spending:
It might not be the most exciting job, but keeping track of your finances is the best way to make sure you don’t overspend and land yourself in trouble.
As a starting point, you could create a spreadsheet showing your income from student loans, scholarships and bursaries, parents, and any part-time job you have, and note down regular outgoings such as your rent and mobile phone contract. You’ll then be able to see exactly how much you have available to spend each month.
16. Pay your bills on time:
By keeping a close account of what’s going in and out of your bank account, it can also make it far easier to pay your bills on time.
When you’re living in halls of residence, utility bills will usually be included in your rent, making budgeting a little easier. However, if you’re sharing a student house you’ll normally be responsible for paying for your gas, electricity, water, and internet. Use comparison websites to ensure you get the best deal and keep costs down by saving energy.
Also, sharing bills among housemates can be effective (one pays the electricity, another pays the gas, etc.) as long as it is managed carefully. If you pay a bill on behalf of your housemates, make sure they give you their share promptly. Similarly, if a housemate pays a bill for you, repay them as quickly as possible. This way, you’ll avoid any unnecessary tensions developing should anybody consistently fail to pay their share.
17. Ensure you pay the right taxes:
Perhaps the most important tip.
If you work part-time while studying, you will likely have to pay tax just the same as everybody else. It’s possible you may not have to, but if you do have to pay and you don’t pay your taxes you could be in for a big fine and plenty more besides. So once again, do your research and look to see if there’s anything extra you have to pay.
By implementing these basic strategies would help cut certain unnecessary expenses, which should be able to reduce the cost of studying overseas.