Are you studying abroad as an international student? Then you’re not only exploring new cultures, making lifelong friends, and learning a new language. You’re also facing a whole new set of challenges – one of which is financing your stay abroad.
Recurring payments such as for student loans, tuition, rent and transportation are only part of the costs you have to bear. The other part is made up of variable expenses such as food and drinks, travel, culture and entertainment.
You’re probably not aware of it, but you may be spending more money on these things than you think. Because unlike your monthly public transit pass and electricity bill, you don’t get a monthly invoice from restaurants, student bars, or museums that shows how much you’ve paid.
That’s why it’s important to know the biggest money traps and how to avoid them.
Financial experts at BudgetBakers have identified the six biggest money mistakes that international students make. Let’s look at them in more detail and learn how to save money while studying abroad.
1. You Don’t Make Use of Student Discounts
You’re a fan of concerts, galleries and movies or you enjoy going to parties with your friends? Then you don’t always have to pay full price. As a student, you can save a good amount of money by asking for student discounts with your student ID. In many places, students receive discounts of up to 50%.
Chances are you’re also paying too much for electronic devices like computers, tablets and cell phones. Many stores will give you education pricing if you are enrolled as a student at a university. For example, Apple gives university students a $100 discount on Mac computers and a $50 discount on iPhones and iPads.
You can cut down your expenses even more if you use your student status when subscribing to Amazon Prime, Apple Music and Spotify. All you need is your college-assigned email address ending in .edu. With this address you can get free deliveries and cheaper subscriptions.
Also for clothing and transport you don’t necessarily have to pay full price. Many brands like H&M and Topshop give you a 10 to 20% discount on almost the whole assortment. In addition, many universities offer semester tickets that allow you to explore your new city and region either for a discounted price or for free.
2. You Don’t Plan Your Meals In Advance
Food is another money trap you’re probably not aware of. Even if you try to save money in the cafeteria or in student bars, you will end up spending a lot of money on your meals and drinks.
That’s why cooking at home on a frequent basis is a smart choice for international students on a budget. To make your meals as cheap and delicious as possible, you should plan them in advance. Start by researching inexpensive meals and then make a shopping list. Don’t worry, there are countless recipes that you can easily make, even if you’re a complete beginner.
Now, how does that help your budget? If you buy cheap/discounted, seasonal, mostly meat-free ingredients and cook several dishes with them, you not only save money, but also time. All you need is Tupperware and enough space in your fridge and freezer.
3. You Shop Impulsively
We all know this situation. We walk past a store or surf Instagram, and suddenly a product pops up that we desperately want. Whether it’s the trendy jeans in the shop window or the latest game console in an ad – we want to buy it right away.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with indulging yourself once in a while. But you should ask yourself: Do I really need this product? Will I still buy it in a few days?
If you want to avoid money mistakes, take at least three days to consider the purchase. If you still think about the item then, buy it.
4. You Let Peer Pressure Drive Your Finances
Let’s be honest. How often do you go to a restaurant, a movie or a party with your fellow students, even though you don’t really feel like it?
This phenomenon is called peer pressure, or FOMO (fear of missing out). We spend money doing the same things as our friends, even though we don’t really want to pay for them. Simply for the reason that we want to belong and not miss out on anything.
That’s human, especially if we’re new to a city. But that doesn’t mean we have to attend everything. When an event is coming up, first ask yourself if you really want to go, or if you’re just doing it for the sake of others. You’ll see how much more money you have left at the end of the month when you make honest choices.
5. You Don’t Know How Much You Spend On Subscriptions
Most likely, you don’t know how much money you spend on monthly subscriptions. A recent US study has confirmed this. Researchers have found that actual spending on streaming services, music providers, etc. is many times higher than you think.
This underestimation is due to the fact that you probably don’t have a clear overview of how many paid apps you have actually subscribed to. This happens especially when you sign up for a trial subscription with your bank details, which automatically becomes a paid subscription after a certain period of time.
If you subscribed through Apple’s App Store, go to your iPhone Settings > [Your Name] > Subscriptions to view your services and their cost. Android users can do this through Google Play. In the app, click your profile icon and select Payments & Subscriptions > Subscriptions to view all the services you’ve signed up for in the Play Store. Here you can also cancel services.
6. You Spend Too Much On Vacations And Trips
We understand that as an international student, you want to travel as much as possible. After all, that’s one of the reasons you moved abroad. But different currencies, foreign exchange rates, airfare, etc. often cost many times more than you think. So you want to travel in a way that’s affordable.
Be careful when it comes to one-time expenses. These can quickly skyrocket, especially if you’re not familiar with local transportation, hotel and food prices. Here, our experts show you how to save on your next student vacation depending on your budget.
Make sure you create a budget before your vacation that you won’t overspend. The easiest way to do that is with a budget tracking app like Wallet by BudgetBakers. It allows you to set a daily budget goal and record how much money you spend on what things during your stay. This way, you’ll avoid a rude awakening at the end of your trip.