Financial literacy- Living on a budget while studying abroad

Courses,Study Abroad Budget,Study Abroad Guides


  • Costs that you might easily overlook while studying abroad
  • Costs that you should not overlook
  • Tips to create and stick to budget while studying abroad

If you are thinking about money while wanting to pursue a degree or education abroad, it is important to keep in mind that the tuition fee is not the only cost that you have to look for Financial literacy. In this blog, we will help you look into the other overlooked expenditure that adds up in the expenses so that you can properly budget your studying abroad experience.

Administrative costs

Even if there are free education programs or scholarships offered by your university or college, they usually come with administrative costs. They cover things like exam fees, books or documents that are related to your enrollment in the college or university. Even if the costs are not too high, they might still be pressuring your budget if you don’t count them.


After you are accepted to the university of your choice, you will have to start making the travel arrangements. Even if you are benefitting from a scholarship, sometimes you have to pay for your own flight.
If you found your place outside the university, the regular travel to and fro would also be an extra unnoticed burden. The amount is not too high unless you live too far from the university (usually not recommended), but it is a hidden cost that needs to be considered nevertheless. Travelling around and exploring might cost you more, look out for cheaper alternatives to travel and stay- since you might end up paying more than intended.


Usually, the highest expenditure for the month, the challenge for most of the students would be to find good accommodation, without spending a fortune while finding it near to the university. You can rent the place with a group of people from your college to mitigate the costs since you renting a place on your own is quite expensive abroad.

Health and Travel insurance

Health care abroad is highly expensive. Studying abroad means you will be away from home between 1-3 years, so it is important to have your health insurance covered. All international students should have private health and travel insurance cover. If you have a scholarship, mention the expense of health care insurance to get financial aid- this is an important aspect to look into before your departure.

Food and groceries

Food and grocery expenditures depend on the kind of country you live in. If you are living in Europe, you normally spend around 250-300 Euros on your monthly groceries. If you eat a lot and don’t have time to cook food, it is going to be even more expensive.
One way to save money is to shop at local markets, and you negotiate better. Additionally, there will be coupons for students that will reduce half the costs at some food places and eateries.

Books and other course materials

Books and materials can be another overlooked cost for the students. Depending on the type of course, you might be spending around 200-900 euros every year for the books and materials required. Some pointers where the cost can be reduced are:

  • Scholarships: Covers your book and material costs
  • Take books in second hand from your seniors
  • Electronic versions of the course books are cheaper
  • Sharing books with classmates

Telephone bill

There are cases when people call their family and friends or used mobile data when abroad and receive hefty bills. This is because of the international charges of the telecom companies. So, it will be better to have a knowledge of the rates and limit the number of calls every week and usage of data. You can use free Wi-Fi available at public spaces or get a local sim card to reduce the rates. You can also use WhatsApp and Skype for calls using Wi-Fi.

Currency fluctuations

Most people don’t consider the chances of currency fluctuations while planning their abroad budget. Since the Indian rupee is depreciating at a faster pace against the dollar and euros, you might end up spending more on your tuition fee than usual. Unless you plan ahead for this at the pacing rate of depreciation (usually around 10-15%) in your budget, you will always fall short of money. Also, if you are enrolling for a long-term course, make sure you arrange the funding for all the course years by the end of your first year.

Lifestyle expenses

The following expenditure usually is overlooked.

  • Gas bill
  • Mobile phone and Wi-Fi bills
  • Surplus for food cravings
  • Medical bills
  • Personal grooming
  • Movie tickets

5 Tips to create your study abroad budget:

  1. If you don’t have trust funds in your name, you should start earning in your first year with either a part-time job or an off-campus job. Try getting to the financial aid department of your university and see if you qualify for any scholarships, loans and grants. You can also try crowdfunding options like Fund my travel.
  2. Depending on the kind of country you go to, cash or card working depends. We recommend carrying cash, so that we don’t add up charges and international conversion fees, which can reduce cost of spending. Credit cards are also super handy in a lot of western countries. Also, lookout if the cards you use are acceptable in your country of study.
  3. Having a surplus is important. Always watch out for expenditure and create a fund at least 15-20% more. It can always come handy one way or the other.
  4. Draw a budget. Get your nerd mode on and start working on these spreadsheets. Try using financial apps to help you with the financial planning. Start working on your budget in international currency- make sure you don’t overlook important costs (mentioned above). Look at your spending habits, how much you spend on each part of your lifestyle should be taken into account as well. Start cutting costs wherever possible. Most importantly, STICK TO YOUR BUDGET.
  5. Live like the locals do. One of the best ways of saving money abroad is to understand how locals spend their money. Instead of high-end cafes and restaurants, you can just look for good local street food. Ask locals where to buy what- food, groceries and anything else. Start looking for coupons and deals on newspapers and colleges. Use student discounts given by your college.
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