5 Tips for Budgeting as an International Student
December 09, 2020
There is no doubt that budgeting is the most important financial aspect of student life. Seeing as the expenses of international students are nearly double that of local students, it is no surprise that most international students have additional anxiety regarding money.
Learning to manage your money and living within your means can reduce the pressure you might have when studying abroad. We understand the struggles of saving up as international students. Here are some tips and tricks that can help you stay financially secure.
Tip 1: Create a budget
One of the most important steps to control your expenses is creating a budget. Without having a proper budget, you could be left with no money at the end of the week and then wonder where it all went. Start off with a ballpark figure for the maximum amount you can spend in a month. Write it down. Writing is committing.
Tip 2: Track your expenses
In order to curb negative spending behaviours, you need to know where your money is going. There are several apps available that allow you to track your spendings in an efficient manner. One such app is Mint, which is free, and not only offers the option to create a budget but also links your bank and credit cards to make the tracking easier. It even allows you to choose categories of spending, set limits, specify how frequently each expense will occur, and specify whether to start each month with leftover amounts from the prior month.
Apps such as Dollarbird and PocketGuard also allow you to budget efficiently and are worth checking out!
Tip 3: Student Discounts!
One of the perks of being a student is definitely student discounts. From Amazon to Topshop, many retailers & stores carry student discounts. Our advice is to make the most of these till the time you are at the university.
Apps such as Unidays and Student Beans are extremely useful in getting your discount codes. Additionally, it might be worth investing in an NUS card to get some additional discounts.
Pro Tip: Make sure to carry your student ID whenever you go to a restaurant/go shopping and ask the server if they have student discounts, as sometimes they might not openly advertise it but have it nonetheless!
Tip 4: Get Cooking
Cooking is so much cheaper than ordering in or going out — as students we have a lot on our plates (pun intended) so sometimes it's okay to order in a pizza to save time. But if you're doing so regularly, we have some news for you: you're burning a hole in your pocket.
Our suggestion? Why not go grocery shopping and pick up a few low-cost ingredients and do some meal prep! You can even buy cheaper as products nearing their "best by" dates are often available at discounted prices & are still safe to consume.
Use the internet to find some student-friendly recipes & always keep ingredients at home to throw in a quick sandwich.
Tip 5: Cancel your unused subscriptions
This isn't just a tip but a reminder to cancel your unused membership fees. No longer using the gym? Working out at home? Cancel that unused gym subscription. For streaming services, find the ones that cater the most to your entertainment interests & buy those instead of spending on all of them.
Tip 6: Borrow books instead of buying
If your university library doesn't have a book or text or journal you need, find out if the public library does. Get a library membership & save money. Membership also comes with perks like discounts on printing, booking halls, etc. Additionally, University libraries often have the provision to borrow books on your behalf from other libraries all over the country. Exhaust all options before you have to buy anything.
Tip 7: Get a Part-Time job
You could also work part-time to earn some extra cash. Under Tier 4 visa, you are allowed to work up to 20 hours per week. Most universities offer ambassador jobs that are well-paid, often on an hourly basis, thus providing students with the flexibility to work alongside their studies.
Additionally, you could consider working at cafes, restaurants and shops! Be sure to have a good CV and be confident!
Pro Tip- Always ask to speak to the manager and show lots of enthusiasm! If you’re confident and enthusiastic, it won’t matter if you’ve never worked before.
Lastly and most importantly, whenever you wish to purchase something ask yourself these questions:
Do you need it?
Is it worth it?
Is it cheaper elsewhere?
If your answer is positive for the first two and negative for the last one, only then go ahead with your purchase!
(This blog was written by our wonderful intern Nainika Mehta, an international student from India studying at the University of Bristol)