We already discussed 10 Ways to Save Money on Study Abroad but what about saving money BEFORE you study abroad? The following tips should give you an idea of what you could be doing in the six months to a year before you leave.
1. Buy things there, not before.
You may think you need to hit the mall and buy a million different new things for study abroad but you don’t. I remember going on chaotic shopping trips to the mall with my Mom and buying all this crap I didn’t need because we both were nervous/excited about my upcoming semester. The money I spent before study abroad could have easily been a weekend trip to a foreign city or a shopping spree at a European clothing store during study abroad. Yes, I liked my new coat/backpack/boots/whatever I bought but honestly what is cooler, this American item I got or the cool foreign one I could have bought on study abroad?
Bottomline, before you go study abroad preparation crazy, ask yourself if you really need what you are buying. Remember the #1 study abroad packing rule: less stuff, more money!
2. Have your parents host a going away party for you.
I remember my cousin inviting me to a ”Marie is going away on study abroad party” and thinking is she serious? Clearly, an attempt to get money from our family members.. and a genius one at that. I bet she made bank. If you’re going away on study abroad and have a huge family, maybe you should consider hosting a going away party. Cards, twenties, a good time, nothing wrong with that.
3. Sell everything you own.
Sometime last year I discovered the consignment shop and my life changed. Instead of my Mom donating my old clothes to the good will, or passing them down to younger cousins, I realized I could sell them to the consignment shop and profit off them. I started dropping off laundry basket sized loads of clothes and walked out with mad cash. You know those Abercrombie sweatshirts you haven’t worn since tenth grade? Some tween is going to snatch those up in two seconds. That Ipod from two ipods ago, sell it. No reason to keep stuff you don’t need lying around the house and it’s a great way to make money for study abroad.
Check with your university’s study abroad office, Fastweb, and any outside organizations you are a part of to see if they offer scholarships for international study. The earlier you start this process the better. Some schools will give you extra finaid help as well, so check with your school’s financial aid office to see if you are eligible.
5. Get a part-time job.
Contact the gym, the library, the dining hall, your major department, etc. to see if they can take on any more students for part-time help. Any extra money you can make now will only help you later.
6. Don’t exchange your money until you get there.
Avoid exchange rate kiosks which charge you more so they can profit. Wait to convert your money until you get to your final destination. Just make sure you have enough foreign currency to get you through the airport and into a taxi.
7. Move money into your savings account and don’t touch it.
Start saving a little bit each month so that by the time you are abroad, you have a good chunk of money saved.
8. Cut out wasteful spending.
You all know the money that just flies out of your hands. Three going out tops you just had to buy at Forever 21. A trip to Dunkies every morning that costs $5 for a sandwich and a coffee. $7 for a sandwich at lunch when you should be making your own. Well, before study abroad is a good time to cut out all of that wasteful spending. Again, anything you save now will equate to greater opportunities on study abroad.
Investigate apps for your phone that will allow you to call and text overseas for free, find out if your hair dryer/hair straightener will work abroad or if you should buy new appliances when you get there, check out what you should do about opening a credit card or bank account overseas, etc. Figuring this stuff out now will save yourself time and money later.
10. Talk to friends who have studied abroad.
Find out what they really needed to bring and what they should have left at home. Get advice on the cheapest restaurants and tourist traps to avoid. Ask about transportation methods and costs. Many times students will email around homemade city guides with information about bars, restaurants, and hostels. I recieved one before I went abroad and wrote one myself for the students after me. If you find one, email to and we’ll publish it so that all students can benefit.
Overall, studying abroad should be fun and not stressful. Do little things like those mentioned above to help you save up and be careful to not go spending crazy when you’re there. If you leave with a chunk of change and stick to a budget, you’ll make it through the semester just fine.