5 Practical Ways To Make Studying Abroad Not Just A Rich-Kid Thing


Studying abroad, away from your family and all familiarity, may be one of the biggest challenges a student can face. While studying may only take a few years and a few sacrifices, the managing of daily life abroad on a budget is an entirely different thing that those students will have to face every day. Studying abroad means student fees, increased expenses, food, and basic essentials that typically go above and beyond the cost of what you might pay living back home in the states. In some cases, you may need to budget additionally for your board and lodging.

Studying abroad can be tiring — physically, mentally, and financially. Being away from home may disrupt the concentration of a student and, at the same time, present challenges in terms of financial wellness. With all the money going out, like payments, bills, and student fees, it’s important to figure out ways to bring money back in. But how?! As a student, it’s essential to make time for work and save money, and to concentrate on making time for both. Are you making room for both?

The answer should be a resounding “yes.” Saving money while being a full-time student is very possible, and it can be done with simple strategies. It’s important that you give yourself some wiggle room in terms of budgeting and saving, and I’m going to help you by giving you tips to save more and make more money. Hopefully, this will help you do a better job at juggling both. Studying abroad doesn’t have to simply be for “rich” kids who have a ton of disposable income at their finger tips. Anyone can afford to do it if they take concrete steps toward smart financial planning to help them balance studying abroad with paying their bills.

1. Be a part-time tutor.
One quick way to earn extra income is to work as a part-time tutor. You’ll find that parents actually prefer that their child’s tutor is also a student (preferably in college), because that typically means those students will have routines and techniques that can be useful when applied to their own children. Looking for a part-time tutoring job is quite easy, especially when looking around your own school. You can approach your own counselors or teachers, and inquire about tutorial services that the school may offer to younger students in more junior classes. Be sure to use websites, like Care and Teach, which will connect you with parents who are looking for tutors. Make sure that you’re using your extra time to maximum productivity, and set up a prompt and strict time for your tutoring hours.

2. Use student discounts.
This one seems kind of obvious, but don’t discount the very positive effect this can have on your wallet and budget. There are many student discounts you can tap into to save money –- from discounts on bus fares, food, houseware items, and other basic necessities. It is simply a matter of knowing where and what establishments offer these discounts. Another way to save money through discounted necessities is by choosing a cheap (but also safe and convenient) apartment or dormitory room that can be shared. Find a roommate, and share your living space with a friend or trusted classmate to save a ton of $$$. Instead of living alone in a dorm room or apartment, share it with a friend or classmate, and this will split the rent in half (or more). You can look for apartments that are near your school and in a safe neighborhood, or you can ask for referrals from upperclassmen who have similar living arrangements. Check out the articles herehere, and here, which provide excellent tips for finding affordable housing abroad.

3. Learn how to cook.
One of the biggest expenses for students living abroad (or locally), is accounting for meal and grocery shopping. Even if you find a restaurant, fast food, or convenience store that is cheap, it can still be pricey if you visit it daily (or semi-regularly). Cooking at home is, hands down, the way to go. Learning the art of cooking, even in it’s simplest form, can save you a lot of money, and you’ll avoid the need to eat out often. And, if you already know how to cook and are good at it, you can even use that skill to earn extra income. For example, you can cook food, pack, and sell it to your schoolmates.

4. Get travel and health insurance.
When you are studying abroad, travel is a constant activity — whether it’s going home for Christmas or traveling away with your friends during long weekends. Travel insurance will help secure your travels, and protect everything from your luggage to unforeseen (and expensive) circumstances. If you encounter any problems on your trip, which demands money out of your pocket, your travel insurance will help you get refunded for it. Health insurance is an important investment when you are living abroad. You’ll never know when you might be in need, and need coverage for potentially dire health-related purposes. It is good to know that you have health insurance to help you out financially.

5. Try for scholarships.
One of the best ways to save money on expensive tuition fees and school fees is to become a scholar, and apply for scholarships. Scholarships can take a great discount on your dues, and, in some cases, they can even pay your full tuition for an entire school year. This leaves you only having to think about your daily necessities, board, and lodging, and can even allow you to work more. Scholarships may not be easy to get, but if you study hard, pass the exams, apply for a bunch of them, and (potentially) snag one, the benefits can be a w e s o m e.

Saving money, working hard, and budgeting smartly is important, even when you’re a student and awaiting a diploma to “start” your life. You do not need to wait for graduation to start building up your financial independence. Start saving money now. It’s important to practice being independent and responsible for your overall financial wellness, especially if you’re taking your education abroad. Keep this list of five practical ways to save money under your belt so you can start plugging them into your financial strategies today.

Andy Bell is an everyday learner and editor, working at Tutoring help. He loves his job and is very passionate about online learning that helps businesses achieve their goals. 

Image via Unsplash

  • Great tips! One thing I’d add is to consider studying somewhere where the cost of living is much lower than in your home country. Obviously everyone has different goals and aspirations for time abroad, but choosing Southeast Asia or the Middle East, etc. over Europe can be a wonderful experience and a lot more affordable (especially if you find a great STA flight!). Additionally, it gives you a chance to spend time in a place that might be harder to go later as a tourist.

    • AN

      I agree! Study abroad in Argentina was a completely different financial experience than studying abroad in Spain (where a few of my friends went). Exchanging bills on the black market in countries with high inflation will also help the exchange rate work more in your favor, but you have to be careful who you go through. I went through Xoom.com when I stayed in Buenos Aires for 6 months.

    • Sara

      I echo this! I studied abroad in China and other than my flight, my expenses (rent, food, entertainment, etc.) were FAR less than it was at home. I traveled quite a bit around the area on time off, went out regularly and had an amazing experience all while spending LESS money. I always tell people to nix Europe and go somewhere that the dollar goes further!

  • Will

    With a FULL RIDE tuition scholarship, enough free time to work 20 hours per week, and a job with mediocre wages (say $10/hr), a student could still only get by without loans or help by keeping their monthly budget under $800, which is less than rent+utilities for some of us.

    The solution to studying abroad being a rich kid thing is not to tell the poor kids to work harder or to be smarter with money, as this article suggests.

    • Irisgeist

      It depends really a lot on the country and university. Where I did my post-grad studies, in Germany, the tuition fee was around 100€ *per semester* and that included a ticket to use the public transport system in a radius of 11 km around the city where I was. I rented a small flat alone (a luxury) for 350€/month + approx. 100€ for electricity, internet and mobile phone. Had I have been an undergraduate student, I would have been eligible to rent a room in the university dorms for 150€/month with utilities included. Grocery shopping costed something like 150€/month. For health insurance, I paid around 90€/month. I had a scholarship of 1300€/month, which allowed comfortably to include expenses like going out some weekends, making some small trips and saving a bit. That same scholarship money most likely would not have been enough for studying in London, Oslo, NYC or Zurich.

      • Will

        I guess I assumed this article was aimed at students in the US. At my university, the cheapest dorm is $6,000 per 10 month academic year, so off-campus apartments are generally the cheaper option (after you serve your mandatory 2-years in a dorm) at about $500/month if you have roommates (a “luxury” 1-bedroom would be $700-$900/month). Student health insurance is $200/month and groceries are about $200/month too. It’s very rare here to get any scholarships worth more than tuition, so we generally have to work or take out loans to cover cost of living. Minimum wage (what most campus jobs offer) in my college town is $8.10/hr, so you’d have to work ~28hrs per week just to afford the bare minimum.

        What we need in the US is a system like you have where dorms that are actually affordable and scholarships can go to something other than our $10,000/year tuition (at a “cheap” public school). Unfortunately, public funding for colleges is being cut and the only way for them to survive is for them to gouge students in every way possible (hence the requirement for 2 years of $600/month (minimum) to share a 4-person dorm room with no kitchen so you need to buy a $370/month (minimum) meal plan)

        Until the cost of college is addressed in the US, it is impossible for poor students to save anything so studying abroad (and in a sense, college itself) is reserved for the privileged.


        • Summer

          What I think more people should consider, and I certainly wish that I had before I let myself end up with $40k in student loan debt, is simply studying in another country—period. Not doing it as part of some US university’s study abroad program, but applying directly to a foreign university. It’s not the school abroad that costs so much, it’s the fact you’re still paying tuition fees to your US school for the ~privilege~ of temporarily going somewhere else to learn.

          If I could do it all over again, I’d have moved to Germany far sooner.

          • Will

            That’s an interesting idea. It’s really counter-intuitive to think that going to Europe for college is the cheaper option, but as long as you only fly back to the US once or twice per year it probably is cheaper. Especially if you can get a €150/month dorm room

        • Irisgeist

          Hi Will,
          Yikes, the costs of being a college student in the US are crazy! No wonder why there is a huge student debt crisis. But really, as Summer suggested below, when you do the math is not so crazy to consider skipping altogether going to college and the US and trying in another country: you might as well end up paying considerably less for attending a top tier program without crippling student loans.

  • Jane

    Sorry, but there is nothing remotely new or not obvious here. The “bigger” TFD gets, the more ridiculous its’ filler/Clickbait articles become.