5 tips for managing living expenses while studying abroad

In an ideal world, your living expenses abroad will be equivalent to the expenses you would have at home. However, this is not always the case. If you are going abroad for your first year, it is not easy to know what to expect, how much money you will need and create and manage a budget.

We have come up with a few tips and guidelines to help you better manage your expenses while studying in the U.S.

International Student Budget

1. Consider currency exchange rates: You can save a lot of money by keeping an eye on the American Dollar vs your home currency. What the American dollar is worth today in relation to your home currency, may not, and most likely will not be the same amount in a week, month or even year or two. So if you think the rate is as good as it’s going to get, transfer more money over sooner.

2. Paying your tuition fees: Luckily, paying your tuition fees has gotten a lot easier to manage and handle with the help of Flywire. Not only does it provide a best rate guarantee when transferring your money, it also sends you reminders for upcoming bill do dates so you will never miss a deadline.

3. Create a budget: Write down all the fixed costs you have per month and split them up into weeks.  Those expenses may include food, toiletries, books, study materials, internet, cell phone, etc.  Factor in some of the fun stuff, like movie tickets, trips, and nights out. Stick to your allowance and soon you will get a hang of living on your budget and it will give you ease of mind, knowing where your limits are. For more information on student budgets, read our finance blogs!

International Student managing finances

4. Save on travel costs: Take advantage of your Student I.D. for discounts on transportation. Whether it is public transportation in the city, airfare or trains, try to book in advance, save money with off-peak travel, and compare prices online and use student travel sites.

5. Shop wisely: It is important to get all your vitamins and eat well. Check out your school’s cafeteria option plans, and try to cook at home instead of eating out. This can be a great opportunity to learn how to cook your favorite dishes! Shop at cheaper supermarkets and look for sales and discount coupons. You can also split bulks with your room mates and friends.

Do you have any other money-saving tips to share? Or do you have some questions about living expenses for international students in the U.S.? Let us know in the comments below!

36 Responses to 5 tips for managing living expenses while studying abroad

  1. Good blog. People should really plan ahead before settling abroad. At the same time they should put in a bit of common sense so that they can manage their expenses without being at a loss.

  2. Yee Vun Chung says:

    Good tips and views on saving cost while staying away from home. The tip on currency rate is very important, considering on the financial capacity of the family to support living expenses from time to time. Searching on student travel sites is just another good option of saving cost rather than sticking to the old traditional way of recording the bits and pieces of stuff that you need to cut down.

  3. Elaine says:

    Good tips on that, especially on currency rate point. Taking good hold of time for the currency rate can save a lot especially on those home currency which are more lower than American currency. Checking on places with student discounts is definitely a good tip rather than the old method on fixing what to spend or not to spend during traveling when you actually can save money with an alternative way. Thanks for sharing!

  4. rhainne says:

    This was great advice as I am thinking about studying abroad next year and I’m terrible at money management! I am thinking of going to somewhere is the Asian region though, I would love to see some tips specific to Asian countries.

  5. Kimberley says:

    Recently I have decided that I want to study abroad, my mum didn’t think I understood the consequence and implications of what moving out had. However, now through your blog I can prove her wrong and show her how prepared and knowledgeable I am on the topic. So thank you.

  6. Chang says:

    Great tips provided, especially on the currency rates as US dollar has a higher currency rate compared to most of the countries. Shopping wisely is another essential tip. Reduce the number of times of eating out but cooking on your own. This cuts down the expenses as eating out is often costly.

  7. vivien yong says:

    Good five tips on helping students who are study abroad. Students really have to learn these 5 tips while they are away from home study oversea. Managing living expenses well can help to decrease the burden on our parents too. Thanks for your 5 tips, it is very helpful for students who are study abroad.

  8. Vincent says:

    The tips are quite general in content and I believe that there might be more tips on how to really manage your living expense more efficiently. But otherwise, there are very helpful for those who are on a tight cash limit basis. Thanks for the five tips and I hope to hear more from you wonderful guys.

  9. Yong says:

    These are the easiest and common tips which always be forgotten by students. You just helping me on refreshing my mind by showing me how to save my pocket money for now and in the future. For me the biggest and the most serious matter is the currency rates, because it is the first thing to be concerned as it affected other 4 tips, only if you are from rich family. At the end, this is a good blog by the way, cheers 🙂

  10. The tips and information provided in this blog are very useful. Students need these tips while they are studying away from their hometown. Students can learn how to manage their expenses easily after reading these tips. Thank you for the tips and information provided. I appreciated it and it is useful.

  11. Fay Ulrica says:

    Very informative post! I am a student living on a monthly allowance away from home and I think that it is necessary to be wise about managing my expenses. At times, spending more than necessary will always cause me to be broke before the month is over. When this happens, it makes me realize that my short-lived bursts of pleasure may also lead me to experiences guilt and even credit problems. I found this post to be a useful and educational read. Thanks for sharing!

  12. Samuel says:

    Thanks for the tips on how to survive living away from home, I am sure many students will find this very useful, although it also depends on the area where we are living in I suppose. As for creating a book for my budget, I have started one already and I’m starting to take care of my money more carefully. Thanks for the tips again!

  13. Ansovina says:

    Good tips! Just to add on. If you are living away from home, meaning that you are going to live on your own and pay your own rent. I recommend that you rent with your friends so that you may split the rent money so you will not pay so much cost in rent.

  14. Annabelle Xiao yong Tan says:

    I am an oversear studnet living in Australia, but those five tips is really helpful to manage money while studying abroad. it was a really good post. now I can supervise my spending!

  15. Vaneeda Chenchooliah says:

    This post is quite informative and would really help me if I wanted to move from Mauritius to study abroad. I like the layout of this blog, it makes it very easy to locate different topics as it is clutter-free. The posts are crisp and clear and don’t have unnecessary blather which would make them long and boring. It would be great if there were more tips on this topic since managing the costs while living away from home can really be a daunting task.

  16. Nuha says:

    Great tips and views on managing costs whilst studying away from home. I strongly agree on the currency exchange tip you have suggested, this would actually help save money. I also agree with trying to cook at home as opposed to takeaway, this would help with the budget and give you the opportunity to learn how to cook your favourite dishes. Thank you for sharing.

  17. Sonja says:

    Managing the cost of living whilst studying in your own country is difficult enough, let alone when you are living abroad. Similarly, excluding study and work restrictions, living abroad on a full wage can still be challenging. Having done both, I find the above advice both accurate and helpful. I would also recommend looking into student or shared accommodation. Splitting rent, household bills and food is a great way to free up some extra cash.
    Additionally, research and budget! It is useful to know how much it will cost per week/month before you go. If you can try and line up some accommodation before you get there, or house viewings for when you get there, it will save a lot of initial hassle and money.
    Moving abroad with savings really helped with the finding a house period.

  18. Sahara Jones says:

    Hi great tips. I was just wondering what you would consider the most and least expensive areas in America, or are they all relatively similar?


  19. Megan Grygorcewicz says:

    Great blog! Great, useful information and tips on how to save money and budget as a student studying abroad or anyone living away from home. It can be difficult to manage living costs and balance them with leisure activities but I think these tips will be useful on how it can be achieved. I think creating a budget is an excellent way to monitor expenses and allocate money to balance your lifestyle. Easy to understand information set out in a basic but effective layout. Very useful, thank you!

  20. Shelby says:

    Great tips! Although specifically aimed at students in America this blog has great advice for any students living away from home. I am also a student who lives away from home in Australia and have found that creating a budget whether it be monthly or weekly is a great aid in keeping my spending under control!

  21. Keshya Rassen says:

    I just love your blog! It is very interesting as there are many people who want to go abroad to study not only students but people also who want to have new life experiences. And here great tips which are vital for going abroad since you need to know how to manage when you are there! You really need to consider all the “for and against” before taking any decision. And of course take a special attention to the budget which is the most important thing whole considering to go abroad.

  22. Matthew says:

    These are very good tips and is a nice simple blog to understand. I thinking having of weekly schedule of upcoming events and activities that you have for the week would be very helpful also as this helps with your weekly budget. Also when moving abroad if you can stay with friends or family, or even sharing a dorm on campus can mean saving rent costs which are going up and up.

  23. Hannah says:

    Good blog. i am planning on studying overseas next year. i have defiantly written these tips down. The style of this blog has made it very easy to read and interact with. All the comments are also very helpful, i got carried away reading them all!!

  24. Kejiou Manisha says:

    The blog is quite elaborate and covers the different aspects of how to use money effectively when abroad from home.
    The tip about buying more dollars when the exchange rates are low is definitely an added bonus.
    Personally, i feel the second tip is greatly helpful. A first year student will most probably have difficulties in adjusting to a new living situation as it is, and paying tuition fees can be challenging since they are new. An effective and easy way is always an added bonus.

  25. jesina appanah says:

    It is nice blog and provides interesting advices if I would like to study abroad. Being someone who spends a lot on unnecessary stuffs, it would be a good habit to start with some changes. I like the style and look of the blog as compared to others which are so compacted with information. This blog is straightforward and goes directly to the point.

  26. Abigail Lee says:

    Great tips! I am planning to study abroad and these tips will come in handy in helping me manage my expenses. Creating a spending budget and sticking to it is definitely what I need to do! This will help keep my spending in check and monitor my expenses.

  27. Madhu Soodeehul says:

    I find it really helpful as this planning is perfect for those students planning to study abroad as they must surely have no idea what is awaiting them there.So I think it is great.

  28. Candice Goh says:

    Very nicely designed blog! These 5 tips are certainly very relevant and informative for students planning to study abroad. I am sure many are unaware on the discounts students are entitled to for travelling and other expenditures! These tips provide more insights for international students to plan their trip before flying to a foreign country.

  29. Jaafar says:

    One of the main issues of studying abroad is definitely not having the luxury of bringing most of the things you have back at home with you while you’re pursuing your studies thousands of miles away. Exchange rates can be kick on the backside too, for a nice morning meal at a Malaysian restaurant, it barely costs you a fortune, whereas if you were to do the same in some European city, you’d really have to be a thrift spender, otherwise it would that you’d risk eating a pack of crackers for days until your next money transfer comes in.

  30. Budriz says:

    Amazing tips you have there, been searching for this. As i plan to be away for a long period of time this articles suite me the best. However I wish there is more elaboration on the article itself for easier reading but the links are very useful as an alternative 🙂

  31. Managing expenses in student life is very important. Must say you have mentioned some very effective tips. I think tip No.4 is something that should be mainly focused on because traveling is really very expensive when you study abroad. Thank you for posting this.

  32. Katie says:

    Great blog! Planning ahead is definitely key! When I studied abroad this past year in Paris I was careful to remember this. One of the things I am the most happy I did looking back was get a cellphone plan I was comfortable with that wasn’t confusing and didn’t have any hidden fees. I got a plan with G3 Wireless (they specialize in abroad plans). It was pay as you go, not prepaid, so I never had to worry about going over my minutes (and getting a huge bill later on), or running out of minutes. I would highly recommend it to anyone going abroad with the same concerns! Huge money and time saver.

  33. Lucy Dawson says:

    Good start for incoming students, thanks! I’d love to see the “develop a budget” more fully developed, and tips for sticking to your budget! Thanks!

    • admin says:

      Hi Lucy,
      Glad you liked the post! And thank you for your comment and suggestions; we’ll keep that in mind for a future blog post, so be sure to keep checking back each week for new posts!

  34. Randy C. says:

    This is the perfect blog for anyone who wants to know about managing living expenses.

  35. Sophia says:

    Thanks for sharing this blog it will help a lot. Individuals should truly arrange ahead before settling abroad. In the meantime they should put in a touch of practical judgment skills so they can deal with their costs without being at no money(loss).The tip on currency rate is important, considering on the monetary limit of the family to support expenses everyday occasionally and also differently saving for travelling.

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