Telling students to apply for much sought-after scholarships to afford their study abroad programs is like telling someone to become rich to buy a sports car. It’s just not that easy. That’s why here are 10 straightforward tips to save & make money to afford your next study abroad program. You can start using these tips right after reading this.
Setting priorities is possibly the easiest yet most challenging way to save money and requires a lot of self-discipline. Basically, it would be best to start questioning your purchases more and keep your long-term goal of going abroad in mind. Do you really need new sneakers, or does the old pair just need a wipe? Do you actually want to go out every weekend and spend money on expensive drinks? And most importantly, do you actually need the latest iPhone every year? Skipping just one generation saves you enough money to purchase a return flight to almost anywhere in the world! Personally, I’m at least four iPhone generation behind. New iPhone or flight tickets?
Coming up with a lot of cash in no time is hard. But saving little amounts here and there over an extended period is way more convenient. Imagine cutting down on your daily $3 coffee before class. Suppose you go to university 4 times a week on average for 30 weeks in a year. In that case, your coffee bill alone adds up to $360 or more. There is no need to stop drinking coffee but to find cheaper ways. You can buy a thermos flask on amazon and make the coffee yourself. This saves you a ton of money, you can drink more without feeling guilty, and you use fewer one-way products like cups, lids, and stirrers. Protecting the environment should be a reason alone to switch to reusable flasks.
Getting rid of one of your streaming subscriptions saves you around $100 per year. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t be able to watch your favorite TV show anymore. You can always share accounts with your friends or roommates. There is just no need for you to have them all. When it comes to food, try meal prepping and cooking at home with friends. Preparing meals in advance saves time (for work) and money. Cooking with your friends at home is a great social and fun activity at the same time. Cooking by yourself can be a way of calming down after a stressful day and is also a form of meditation.
This goes particularly for your mobile phone. While many US plans offer unlimited data anyway, there are still many data limits in Europe. If you have wifi at home, on campus, and basically everywhere you go, consider switching to a cheaper plan. Also, check your free minutes/credits and message allowance and reduce it to a minimum, too. In some cases, this allows you to cut your monthly spending down to 50% or less. Ideally, you switch to plans without a minimum contract period, allowing you to always switch to the cheapest option available. Besides your mobile plan, check all other subscriptions, too. Do you actually use all of them regularly?
Get an extra job and start saving as early as possible. In theory, you could have even started saving money in elementary school. Even if you can only save $50 per month, this adds up to $600 a year. It is unlikely that you would go abroad within the first year of your study program anyway. This gives you at least one year of preparation and time to come up with extra cash. Remember to think in the long-term again. Suppose you are not reading this for last-minute advice, you don’t need the money any sooner than in a year from now. Ideally, get high-paying jobs that match your personality. This way, working part-time isn’t too exhausting for you. If you are a friendly person by nature, work in a restaurant and make money with tips. On the contrary, if you don’t enjoy smiling all day, try working night shifts with bonus pays. Consider working as a cashier or any kind of service staff at a club. Working as a warehouse or logistics worker at night is also a great way to get bonus pays. As a student, your only real option to do so are weekend shifts. This way, you save even more by merely having less time to spend any money. I worked night shifts at EDM parties and it was actually a lot of fun.
A relatively easy way to get additional money is through free government or federal support. These are sometimes included with the study abroad program, like with the ERASMUS program in Europe. Depending on the destination country, you will get anywhere between 350€ and 450€ per month without even asking for it. This is a great way to make up for the higher costs of living and go abroad at almost no additional cost (study abroad for free). However, check for more financial support options for students in your home country (both online and at your university).
Some countries also specifically support incoming international students or offer generous financial aids. One example is the JASSO scholarship in Japan. Although it is still a scholarship you have to apply for separately, there is a high chance that you get it anyway if accepted at a partner university. Among other things, this depends on the partnership agreements and the number of applicants. Usually, you apply for such scholarships directly at the partner university or as part of your home university’s application process. That’s why it is essential to ask your home university’s international coordinator for financial support for specific countries. Also, search for “scholarships for international students in (destination country)” to find the ones solely for foreign exchange students.
Depending on your study abroad program, country of origin, and hosting country, you might be allowed to work during your stay abroad. While this is relatively easy for Europeans within Europe, it is more difficult for anyone in the USA. However, you should definitely consider this option. You can ask the partner university’s international coordinator (IC) for advice and tips on that. Maybe the IC can also provide you with contact details from professors who need an assistant or the like. Nevertheless, you could also search for professors in your academic field on the university’s website yourself. Besides that, you could give private lessons in a subject you are particularly good at or in your native language. Last but not least, you can always try to find a job as a waiter/waitress or the like. All in all, try to search for jobs that don’t require a lot of job training and are suited for short-term employment (like seasonal work).
Many people depend on local part-time jobs to fund their student life. These include working at restaurants or movie theaters. Therefore, it is more important than ever to be independent of such local employments and try to make money online. Today, there are endless ways of doing just that. The most significant advantage is that you can continue making money during your study abroad program. Also, you don’t have to save too much money in advance. Ideally, if you decide to give it a shot, go for something you love and start as early as possible. This way, you are good at your online job and have a steady income stream once you go abroad.
Check out the following links and videos for inspiration:
Instead of getting trendy physical items, ask for money or flight tickets for your next birthday or Christmas gift (or similar, depending on your religion). Sure, the majority of us don’t get $1000 gifts for such occasions. But every single dollar brings you closer to your goal of going abroad. And maybe your parents will be extra generous if you ask them for money for your education. Think in the long-term again: if you start asking for money two years in advance, that’s at least three to four occasions right there.
Ultimately, you can always take a student loan for your study abroad program. In any case, I would recommend trying all the previous options to raise the money you need. However, if none of these work for you, I’d still recommend taking a student loan: studying and living abroad for an extended period is one of the best things you can do at an early stage in your life. When going for a student loan, you have to make sure to 100% understand all terms and conditions and how the back pay process works. Ideally, you don’t have to pay back the money before finding a job after graduation. Knowing every detail about the contract is absolutely vital to not end up in a vicious circle of compound interest. I’d recommend going for the smallest amount that allows you to study abroad in a country with low living costs. In that case, you might only need extra cash for the flight. I wouldn’t recommend taking a huge loan to study abroad in an expensive country.
Seeing where all your money goes is an excellent way to actually start saving some. For that, I recommend creating a simple table in Excel (or the like) and track all your monthly spendings. Use categories like daily life, restaurants, groceries, hobbies, rent, subscriptions & plans, phone, etc. The goal is not to track every single purchase but to better understand how much money you spend for each category. Some apps already do the work for you, like the one from Bank of America.
Even though it is not easy, I’d still like to encourage you to apply for full and much sought-after scholarships. Read more about that in the next week’s post or check out the other posts about money related topics.