By Sarah Florer
When coming abroad, one of the main issues that many students face is how to be smart with money. Learning how to manage your money while abroad can be tough, and a lot of it comes from first hand experience. So I’ve created five easy ways to be smart with your money so you don’t have to learn the hard way.
USING THE ATM
When taking out cash at the ATM, don’t forget about the fees the bank is charging to take out money internationally. To avoid piling up those hidden fees, take out a lot of cash at once. This way you are not constantly taking out 20 euros every week and paying more fees than you should. Remember though, if you are taking out a lot of cash, find a safe place to keep it. I wouldn’t walk around with 200 euros in your pocket.
The fee that the ATM charges depends on the bank you have at home. Check with your bank and see if they have a partner in Europe. You can use that partner’s ATM and not get charged as much money.
Although I am in full support of taking out a good amount of cash from the ATM, for bigger purchases I would use a credit card. Be careful about the fees of using your credit card internationally though. Try to use a card that is suitable for international purchases.
Remember to always know the exchange rate of the country you are traveling in. A lot of countries are on the euro, but places like Prague, Britain, Switerland, etc, have different currencies. So remember to keep that in mind!
BUDGETING YOUR MONEY
This might be the most important tip I can give you while traveling abroad. I completely understand the feeling of looking at your bank account a month into your study abroad experience and wondering how in the world have you spent that amount of money. It adds up fast! Food, going out, traveling, sightseeing, and shopping are some of the main ways students spend their money abroad. Take a minute and divide up your expenses and know how much you can afford to spend on each of those things every week. Having a limit will help you know when you can afford to go out and when you need to stay in. This will save you a lot of money in the long run!
Always read the fine print when purchasing something abroad, especially flights. When booking with flights, always always read the fine print. There are many ways that airlines can charge you money if you don’t know their specific terms and conditions. Weight of bags can be a major issue, so know what the limit is for the airline you are using. Not knowing the conditions of traveling with an airline can result in a ridiculous amount of charges and fees.
THE LITTLE THINGS
There are always small ways to help save you money while you are abroad. For the money you spend on food, limit the amount of times you go out to eat per week. Cooking in with your friends can be a fun and inexpensive way to eat dinner during the week. Eating and drinking in before you go out will help you save lots of money. For shopping, go to the markets and learn how to haggle! Don’t ever pay the original price they tell you, always bring it down and haggle your way to the best price. By the end of your study abroad experience, you will be a pro 🙂 Do your research before you buy! And know your city. When you are sightseeing, figure out the days when you can get into the museum for free . Go do the touristy things before it gets warm; prices are down and the lines will be nothing in the winter compared to the spring and summer.
So those are my top five ways to help save money while you are abroad. It is possible! I know that right now it seems like you may be in the red when you get home this summer, but with these tips you can learn to save!