By Nicole Souza
If you know someone who’s studied abroad, then you know the financial purgatory they are put in after coming back from a semester abroad. Being abroad sparks a thrill and sense of excitement in almost everyone which ultimately leads to spontaneous spending. I mean that cute, Italian leather brag was practically screaming your name, right?
But even more than that when you’re living abroad you want to experience the full scope of the culture so visiting numerous cathedrals and museums, going out to eat and drink multiple days during the week, and taking tours are all must do’s. While you’re probably having the time of your life, there’s that nagging conscious reminding you that you’re either spending too much or won’t have enough for the rest of the semester. But there are many ways you can feel less guilty while living it up abroad. Here are some of the ways you can stop feeling guilty and start saving money:
Bring your own grocery bags
In the states, it is common to use a store’s plastic bags to carry all of your groceries. So it may come as a surprise that grocery stores in Europe charge 15-20 Cents per plastic bag. It may seem like not much money at first but when you’re grocery shopping, it can add up to 50-70 cents per trip, not to mention all of those other times during the week you suddenly realize you didn’t buy enough food, perhaps adding 15-50 more cents. In the end, after 16 weeks, you would have spent nearly 15 Euros, which could have bought you coffee, a cute scarf, a full meal, etc…. You get the idea. Get some cents (sense) by just sticking a few recyclable totes or even bags from retail stores in your backpack when heading out to shop.
Save your food storage containers
The European life highly emphasizes sustainability and one way you can be environmentally-friendly and save yourself money is to use produce and snack boxes as plastic containers. The bins that hold your extra chicken can hold makeup brushes and beauty products, which will save you about €20 (the average price of jewelry storage containers) at H&M. You also don’t have to worry about bringing these bins home, as they are easily disposable at the end of your stay!
Use a Drying Rack
Although you may have a dryer provided in your flat it can still cost you €1.50 each time you need dry clothes (and sometimes it may not even dry your clothes all the way.) If you do two loads per week for sixteen weeks, you will have spent €48 in your semester ON JUST YOUR DRYER. Buy a €10 dryer rack and save those coins of yours.
This should come as a given, but it seriously helps. Especially if you plan to be traveling on weekends or holidays, booking in advance (at least 4-6 weeks) will truly save you. Take advantages of sal Manage your scheduling, and at the same time manage your money
Avoid public transportation
Especially if you’re visiting another country, try not to use the metro or buses. That extra €3 metro ticket and €15 taxi will quickly add up. Plus if you walk, then you can truly see the country’s scenery AND get that exercise. On my weekend trips, you can end up walking for about 5-7 hours each day when you don’t use public transportation. In Italy, you could eat pizza and gelato every day walking like that. Skip gym day AND save money. Renting bikes can also be a more affordable way to see everything your destination has to offer.
Bring your own water and snacks while traveling
Traveling can be exhausting, and it’s easy to end up paying €8 for a fruit cup or €5 water bottle at the airport out of convenience. Pack a reusable water bottle and snacks for your trip. Apples, nuts, fruit, and granola bars are all great (and healthy) options. Even a peanut butter jelly sandwich is easily transportable, and it will curb your hunger more than those cookies you would probably end up buying. If your hostel/hotel doesn’t provide breakfast, these snacks can save you an extra £6-10, plus you have more time in the morning to go explore the country you’re visiting.
If you’re tired of eating out at restaurants and paying €25 for a meal, or if you hate spending €10 to get into a bar, then listen up. The Internet is a handy tool, and it can be used to find fun free events, activities, groceries, and shopping areas that are affordable. Google affordable places to eat or cheapest restaurants in your current city or area. Check which bars and clubs have discounts or happy hours. Look up cheap retail stores where you can buy clothes. The less touristy places are also most likely going to have less expensive eateries and shopping stores since they are less populated. You can also find coupons online for your local grocery stores, or even join rewards programs.
Bus2alps even offers discounts on trips; do some searching, sign up for their newsletters, and you could save 15% off of your next weekend getaway with special voucher codes. You should be spending money while abroad, but if you’re trying not to spend your entire life savings, give these tips a try.
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