Tips For Saving Money

You CAN be smart with your money, and we have some tips for how!

The tips below are very helpful, but here is some advice from Kenzie W. and Debora C., alumnae from Semester on the Gold Coast and Intern in Barcelona:

“I would have saved up more money before I left America. I had so many unique opportunities to take trips around Australia and even to New Zealand and Fiji during my semester abroad, but there are still several places I didn’t get to visit. I would budget my money at the very beginning of the trip, spending less on items and more on experiences.”

We LOVE these helpful tips from our pals at

Step 1: Calculate your “big picture” number. Before you start breaking down your study abroad budget, you need to know how much money you will have for the duration of the trip. Whether you’re funding your experience on your own, or with the help of family or friends, knowing your total budget will make it much easier to itemize expenses later on.

Step 2: Convert your currency. Most people are surprised by the vast difference between currencies. Before you start making an expense list, take your “big picture” number and see what it converts to in the local currency. There are various currency converters online that allow you to do this with amazing accuracy.

Step 3: Figure out your needs. Housing. Food. Transportation. The cost of these necessities should be calculated before you start thinking about the fun stuff. Your study abroad program may set you up with some sort of housing arrangement. Check to see if your current financial aid package can be applied to your study abroad university; if it does, funding for on campus housing abroad may be included in the package. You will also want to set aside 10-15% of your overall budget for emergencies.

Step 4: Get a Student Identity card. These SIDs are available to all students and may save you hundreds of dollars. They offer discounts on various items, from museums tickets, to transportation, to dining – you can save a few dollars everywhere you go! Be sure to read about the different types and choose the one that’s best for you.

Step 5: Figure out your wants. Now’s the hard part – figuring out everything you want to do. Obviously, you’re in a new country and you will want to see and experience everything. To determine how to budget your “fun money”, be sure to consider the following things:

There’s a lot to see and do in a new country. Plan ahead for bigger excursions  on your “must do” list. Be sure to include the cost of transportation there and back, meals, and entrance fees for each trip as well.

Nights out:
Most days abroad will be spent in class or visiting sites, but you still want to have money to do spontaneous things with your new friends. Set aside some money for random events that pop up while you’re abroad. It may help to create a monthly budget for your entertainment money to be sure you don’t run out halfway through! (Yes, this happens!) 

Chances are, you’re going to want to bring back some fun gifts for friends and family, as well as souvenirs for yourself. Be sure to set aside some extra spending money, along with some extra room in your suitcase.

#CISabroadtip: Postcards go a LONG way! They are inexpensive, especially when bought in bulk, and the price you’ll pay to mail a handful of postcards to multiple people probably equals what you would otherwise pay if you picked up a t-shirt or a little trinket for everyone on your list! Finally, who sends snail mail anymore? Trust us, your friends and family will love an update from you that arrives in their mailbox!

Step 6: Manage your budget. Okay, so you have your necessities budgeted, you have your emergencies savings set aside, and you have all of your fun money budgeted out for different activities. Now, all you have to do is stick to your budget. Keep a copy of your budget with you while abroad so you can make sure you’re on track. Save receipts and track your spending as well – it will help you stay honest, and stay on budget!

#CISabroadtip: Download a budget app to your smartphone! Try My Weekly Budget or Simply Weekly Budget, and there are plenty of others to investigate!

Helpful link:
Ways to Save Money by Travel Channel