Now, let’s get into the part of study abroad that I once found scary… FINANCES! One of the scary parts about transitioning into adult life is finances, but if you get them into order and follow these tips; your finances will not get in the way of you having a memorable year abroad!
Before my placement year, I had the not so fun experience of travelling to Spain and using my bank card to learn I was being charged a fee every time I purchased something. This was due to my bank account not supporting international transactions – so it’s best to check beforehand!
Having learnt this lesson, I signed up to Monzo and Revolut before leaving to ensure I didn’t make the same mistake again (Starling Bank is also another great option). The great thing about signing up to the mentioned banks is that international transactions come at 0 cost and great exchange rates (it is a good idea to check the terms and conditions when signing up). I recommend doing a few comparisons to see which bank offers the best exchange rate for you.
Having used Monzo for the last couple of months I have found it so easy to manage my finances thanks to the following features.
Monzo allows for you to categorise your expenses, therefore at the end of the month, you can see how much you spent on “eating out”, “groceries”, “travel” etc. This highlights areas where you can cut down, for instance, if your cost for “eating out” is consistently growing monthly, this is a helpful indication to cut back to save money.
The Monzo app also allows you to create money pots. I use this feature to store my monthly rent in a pot which is locked until the 1st of each month, helping ensure that I do not overspend.
Finally, I can set a budgeted limit for the month, this is a helpful reminder if you’re going over your budgeted amount – this does not cap your spending, just nudges you to spend less!
Don’t have a Monzo account? Don’t worry, here you can find the best budgeting apps for students to connect with your bank.
Cutting Costs Tips
To save money, I switched to local brands as this was often cheaper than the brands we use at home in the UK, as well as shopping in local supermarkets and local farmers markets for fruit and vegetables. Small changes such as this, helped me save money in many areas of my weekly shop.
The accommodation was my biggest initial cost (deposit) and monthly cost. I suggest getting in contact with the host university to find out about recommended accommodations and any partnerships they may have. I was fortunate enough to have saved €500 thanks to the referral code offered by the university. Remember, if you don’t ask, you don’t get!
This advice also applies to signing up for gym memberships, gyms often have partnerships with local universities or offer student discounts with proof of student ID. This is an easy way to save money on a reoccurring monthly cost.
My final cost-cutting tip would be to search for low exchange rate locations in both the UK, and in your host country when taking out cash. As I have learnt that local ATM’s charge a hefty fee due to the convenience they provide for those with international cards. Get more for your money by doing a quick google search and save that money for your next trip!
Going out doesn’t always have to be expensive!
There are plenty of student-friendly things to do in every city such as discounted museums and attraction/ landmark tickets. All it takes is a quick google search and look on TripAdvisor and other student guide websites. There are also plenty of free things to do in the city, such as visiting popular tourist locations and roaming around markets.
Going out for drinks with friends doesn’t always have to mean breaking the bank, just find happy hour and student-friendly bars. These bars are a good way to meet new people, unwind after a long week and have fun without spending too much! There are often several restaurants and fast-food chains that also have student-friendly prices during certain days/times of the week.
The tips above are all small steps towards saving money which has helped me significantly. The small things have accumulated, allowing me and my friends to travel around Portugal, Spain and Italy being our next destination!
So, what are you waiting for? Now that you have the key insight from another student, start that application. This is an opportunity you don’t want to miss!
For more financial support, contact the finance experts in Aston University’s Hub.
Written by Amaneet Kaur