Studying abroad is the adventure of a lifetime. You're living in another country for a few months, and traveling every weekend. You'll be eating fresh pasta, exploring museums, and embarking on excursions with new friends in class. But before you go across the pond, there's a ton of prep work to do. You have to get your visa approved, fill out important paperwork with your university, and make sure you're packing all the right essentials. Please don't forget to take your funds into consideration, too. You have to know how to save money for study abroad, because following your wanderlust won't be cheap. There are a few things you can do now to prepare your bank account for the most amazing semester yet.
Let me tell you: Studying abroad is the best decision I ever made. Living in Florence, Italy, for four months taught me a lot about myself and the world, and I'll always consider that city my second home. My friends and I had the opportunity to see so many places throughout Europe. We'd pack up our suitcases and sit on buses for hours before reaching dreamy destinations like Croatia, the coast of France, and Barcelona. Every getaway was worth the pennies we spent.
You might think this sounds cheesy, but I returned home so much richer in experience. It was an unforgettable experience, and worth spending the summer before keeping my eyes on the prize. I found little ways to save (and make) money in just a few months — and you can, too.
One of the best ways to save money for studying abroad is to get involved in rewards programs. You can get a credit card like Bank of America's Travel Rewards card, which racks up points for every purchase that you can use to pay for hotels, flights, and vacation packages. You could even save some money when you go grocery shopping. For example, Stop & Shop's rewards program automatically applies coupons to your items and accumulates points that can be used for gas. At first, it may only seem like a few bucks here and there — but after a few months, it'll really start to make a difference.
Being in college means you likely have something fun planned with your crew every Saturday night. You're spending tons of money on takeout, tickets to sporting events, and shopping trips. What if you skipped a couple of those excursions and saved that cash for studying abroad?
When you're exploring Europe with friends, you won't care that you missed out on making a few memories in a place you've been to a million times. After all, spending a semester in another country is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Let your priorities help you put some money into your savings account.
There's something to be said for saving your pennies. It may feel a bit old-school to keep a change jar and later bring your coins to the bank. But, like points on a credit card, this money can add up and make a major difference in your funds when it comes to studying abroad.
One trick is to use a jar that isn't see-through. Sometimes, when you can see how much money you're collecting over time, it's tempting to dip into your savings for just a dollar or two for your morning cup of coffee. Keep the jar going throughout the semester, and try your best not to empty it until it's time to hop on the plane. You'll be surprised by how much you save for your future adventures.
Every once in a while, it's OK to treat yourself. Even when you're saving money or trying to stick to a budget for the first time, it's key that you let yourself spend a little bit here and there as an incentive. Maybe you've been eyeing a pair of discounted shoes at the mall, or have been wanting to try an acai bowl from that new café down the street. Let yourself splurge a tad, and then get back to your savings goals.
A good way to manage this is to let yourself spend some money once you've hit certain milestones. So, if you save $100, maybe put $10 into your cash flow. It's all about balance.
Believe it or not, the funds you have sitting in your Venmo account might not help you save money. You probably forget about these dimes and dollars, and let them sit there for months. At one point or another, you spent or earned this cash, and it's yours to manage, too.
I'm always guilty of treating this balance like a whole separate bank account. It's easy to send one of my friends a few dollars for food and not take this part of my finances into consideration. So, I suggest transferring whatever you have sitting in these different apps and put your funds in one place.
Saving money can be so easy when you take a moment to review your current expenses. Right now, you're likely paying for rent, groceries, and possibly a gym membership. You also dish out cash for cable every month, in the name of watching your favorite shows. Some of these bills you can't skip out on — but have you considered sticking solely to Netflix for a few months?
Odds are, you're spending so much money on cable alone. There's so much to watch on the streaming services you already subscribe to, and you can always head to your bestie's place to watch the big award shows. Do your bank account a favor and consider taking cable out of the equation.
On top of saving your money right now, there are many ways you can earn money while you're abroad. Sure, you want to focus on the experience, and not be tied down to a job. But, there's actually fun work you can do while you're on the go.
If you have a travel blog, or are hoping to start one in the next few months, you can collaborate with different lifestyle brands and fashion companies for extra cash in your wallet. They may ask you to write about your experience, or take pictures of their products around the world. These jobs require a lot of wanderlust, a creative mindset, and a little bit of Wi-Fi — and you likely have it all. The adventure of a lifetime awaits, and with a bit of saving (and making) money, you won't miss out on a second of it.