Studying abroad comes with a lot of challenges…and managing your money is among the hardest of them! International courses are expensive, and many students go in for education loans which need to be repaid once the course is completed, and after a certain moratorium period during which the student can look for a job. Interest rates are usually manageable, and can be brought down if during the period of study you repay at least the interest regularly.
There are also several things you can do to minimise the loan amount and to ensure that your financial outlay is minimal.
First, you must chalk out a realistic budget that includes your tuition, living expenses including accommodation and food, and study material as a minimum. Add a bit more to allow for unforeseen miscellaneous expenses. Every month, keep track of your spend, and ensure that it does not overshoot this budget. If you are able to save on some money, you can spend it on an evening out or on a fun outing. Always know your limitations and do not feel that you need to keep up with what others are doing. Your friends who may have more ready access to finances may be spending a lot more than you are; do not make the mistake of trying to be like them. There is no harm in being humble and knowing where you stand.
When you work out your budget, make sure that you carry out the currency conversions accurately. Also put down the prices in your university town and not in your home town, as things will have different values here from what you are used to back home.
Priorities your rent and utility expenses; this way you will be sure of a place to stay, come what may! Also factor in the costs for food, health expenses, travel, clothes, study material and after all this put recreation last.
Start a local bank account and have your money transferred to it. All international transactions using a card, or using an ATM, will have hidden transaction charges which can add up to a sizeable fee at the end of the month. Be aware of conversion rates and do not get cheated.
Do your shopping at University subsidized stores or at local shops, rather than big malls. Supermarkets and thrift shops often have great deals at cost effective prices. Some local markets in Asia, for instance, allow for bargaining- the customer is allowed to negotiate on the prices. Initial prices quoted by the salesmen may be very high and if you are not aware of this fact you will end up paying a lot more than the item is worth. Watch what the locals do and ask for help if you need it.
You can also work part time if your student visa permits, to help with some additional income. You can always look for an evening job at the library, or at the local cafeteria. Student nurses can take care of the aged at their homes, when they have the time. A big plus is that you get to meet a lot of interesting people in the meanwhile, while earning some useful pocket money! Keep in mind that your main concern should always be your studies, so the job you undertake should be flexible and must not be too taxing. Paid internships and traineeships are a great way to earn money while you learn on the job.
While managing your money is definitely important, do not let it take away from the quality of your student life! Avoid unnecessary worry, and do plan for some leisure activities as well! Student life should be a memorable experience, not a worrying one!