Who said that saving money stops once you step on that plane? Here are a few tips to keep the savings rolling in while you’re abroad.
1. Create a budget
Before you step foot off that airplane, plan that trip to Paris, or read the rest of this article, create a budget! This is one of the most simple, yet extremely important, money-saving tips. Poor budgeting can derail even the most frugal of us! Budgets worksheets created in Excel like this one allow you play around with the allocation of your funds and allow you to visually see where your money will be going.
When creating your budget, there are plenty resources online to help you figure out the average cost of common expenses (a carton of eggs, a pair of jeans, a taxi ride, etc.) to make a more accurate budget. Numbeo goes even farther by letting you compare the cost of living of two cities side-by-side, so you can see how the cost of living in a foreign country compares with that of your hometown.
Pro Tip: Leave about 10% worth of wiggle room in your budget to allow for any accidental overspending.
2. International Student Card
Sign up for an International Student Identity Card. It’s quick, easy, and will allow you to prove your student status and score deals around the world. This card can get you discounts at museums, restaurants, movie theaters, and more! Freeing up a little space in your wallet for this card will help your wallet never feel empty again.
3. Budget Airlines
Let’s face it: Plane tickets can be expensive. Budget airlines solve this problem. There are a number of budget airlines around the world offering very affordable rates for flights. This no-frills approach to air travel allows passengers to give up flashy amenities like in-flight television and complimentary snacks, in exchange for a pretty sweet deal on plane tickets. If you’re willing to accept slightly stricter rules on baggage and a few other things, then a crazy-cheap plane ticket can be yours.
There is a common misconception that hostels are sketchy, second-rate hotels. However, this isn’t necessarily the case. One of the biggest differences between hotels and hostels is that hostels have shared rooms and communal spaces with like-minded budget travelers. The other big difference between the two is price! Not only are hostels a great budget-friendly accommodation for travelers, they’re also a great way to meet other young travelers in the area!
5. Curb credit card and debit card fees
Little charges here and there really start to add up after a few weeks of living abroad! Avoid unnecessary fees by using a credit card without international fees. If your main access to money is a debit card, don't worry, there are opportunities for you to save money, too! With a debit card, you can be hit with a fee from your bank for drawing out money in a foreign country, a fee for drawing out money from an ATM not associated with your bank, and any potential losses associated with converting your dollars to foreign currency. Space out these charges by pulling out two weeks’ of money at a time and stashing it in a safe place.
6. Talk and text over the web for FREE
There are a number of apps that will allow you to communicate with people while abroad for no cost at all. A familiar option available to you is Facebook Messenger. In addition to letting you send private messages back and forth, Facebook Messenger also allows you to make audio and video calls to another Facebook User over the internet. Another popular option is Skype. Skype has a lot of cool options like sharing your screen with the person you’re chatting with. Another app that will allow you to communicate over the internet is WhatsApp. Not only can you make calls to your contacts, WhatsApp also allows you to send voice, text, and multimedia messages free of charge!
7. Get to know the country you’re in
The foreign country that you’re living in can serve as an excellent launching pad for visiting other countries. However, if you’re looking to save a buck or two, consider travel domestically. Not only will travel within that country be a little cheaper, you’ll also have the opportunity to really get to know that country on a more intimate level. The cost of an opportunity like that? Priceless.
Make your dollar stretch a little further with the tips above and other Diversity Abroad resources: