Budgeting for Your Time Abroad

Studying or living abroad isn’t cheap. In addition to tuition for schooling, you have to factor in the costs associated with your room and board, school supplies, transportation, food, clothing, entertainment and more. If you’re a student living abroad or just exploring different countries and cultures, here are a few tips to saving up in your bank account.

Create a Budget

First off, invest in some budgeting software, or simply keep a computer spreadsheet or even notebook in which to create your budget. You’ll need line items for the following:


  • Airfare
  • Personal expenses: laundry, phone calls, entertainment, gym membership, groceries, entertainment, cell phone, clothing, etc. Sometimes your employer or university will include meals, books, and local transport in the total cost.
  • Car/taxi/subway money
  • Tuition
  • Supplies, lab fees, laptops
  • Extra course fees for certain academic disciplines
  • Household items such as pots, pans, silverware, sheets


It’s important to do your research on the cost of living in the country you’ll be visiting or moving to. This will give you the best idea of how to start your budget off. Find out what’s included in your program of study, or what your employer will be willing to pay for.

Develop Your Budget According to YOUR Needs

Are you a traveler, a partier, a shopper, a foodie? Think about what type of person you are and what you will most likely spend your time doing overseas. Tailoring your budget to your personality is a good idea, allowing you to prioritize in your savings. Nights out at the clubs in Spain…eating your way through China…or spending your days on the beaches in Brazil…whatever you want to do, some personalities call for very different budget levels!

Get a Job

If it will be awhile before you go overseas, get or maintain your job here. Sock away money wherever you can. Many experts agree that you should save about 20% percent of your paycheck for retirement contributions, emergency funds and your savings account. If you’re planning to move soon, start your job search here so you have one secured once you get there. Students can’t live on no paycheck, so it’s a necessary evil to maintain your lifestyle once there. A local job is also a great way to get to know your host country, practice your language skills, and make friends.

Cutting Back

Cut back on non-essential spending. If you’re going to live abroad with a friend, go in on a budget together to cheer each other on in your efforts to save. Look into free places to visit for entertainment abroad, such as museums, parks, beaches and cultural centers. Bring your student ID with you wherever you go, to take advantage of student discounts at movie theaters, museums, local restaurants and much more. Get a pre-paid or pay-as-you-go phone to save on monthly costs.

Keep BRIC Language Systems handy on your laptop wherever you go so you can continue to brush up on your language skills!