Navigation Menu

Featured image by CollegeDegrees360

There’s a lot to think about if you’re about to become an international student and spend time studying abroad. You have to plan classes, plane tickets, and so much more.

However, the planning doesn’t stop when you are settled into your new home. As you go through your semester abroad you need to be able to budget your money wisely so you can get as much out of your stay as possible.

Being on a budget is never easy. It especially isn’t easy if you are a young student, itching to spend your whole time exploring a new country. But just because you are on a budget doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy your overseas semester to the fullest.

With these tips, you will be able to balance life so you don’t go over budget.

How To Get the Most Out of Your Budget as an International Student

Don’t Miss Orientation

The first thing you should do before starting your semester abroad is to attend your university’s orientation day. It might seem boring, and it’s usually a rite of passage to blow it off, but “O-week” can actually provide you with some extremely useful information about your surroundings.

Remember, this isn’t like orientation at a local college – you are in an entirely new place, and it can be incredibly useful to learn information like the best places to get a good, cheap lunch, how / when the local buses run, and the best social events.

You will probably also be told about the resources your university offers, like tutoring services, or essay writing help etc.

Venice sightseeing

Plan Your Budget

The best way to make sure you have enough money is to know how much you have and how much you need to spend.

Some expenses might allow you to know exactly how much you will spend on them – a monthly phone bill for example. For expenses like groceries, though, you will want to set aside a certain portion of your budget to use for this purpose.

If currency conversion is an issue, make sure you download a conversion app on your phone, and know the real cost of things before you buy them. Another thing you will want to do is to curb impulse buying. Of course, the occasional splurge isn’t going to hurt you but you will want to stick to your budget as closely as possible.

Finally, you will want to set aside a little in your budget in case of emergencies. This way, you are prepared if something happens. This could be a range of scenarios – from needing to schedule a doctor’s appointment to having a bill be a little higher than expected.

Pro tip: Make sure you have a travel card with no overseas transaction fees, and no local or overseas ATM fees. These fees can really add up when you’re making a lot of purchases, and take our a big chunk of your budget. 

Pexels Money

Get a Part-Time Job

Your best course of action is to get a part-time job. This will allow you to depend on a steady income to fund your expenses. However, by only committing to a part-time job, you will leave yourself plenty of time to study and have fun.

Luckily, there are plenty of part-time jobs available for students overseas, though you do need to make sure that you are permitted to work under the conditions of your visa. This is extremely important as a breach of your visa may mean your semeter is cut short and see you deported.

You should also check into your rights as a worker, as they probably differ at least slightly from your home country, especially since you are an international student instead of a full citizen. Most universities offer services to help you polish your resume before you look for jobs.

Most students work in hospitality, so you’ll have the most luck applying for jobs in places like cafes, bars, or retail. For instance, a company who employs a high number of students in Australia is the department store Big W (you can review this related article to find out how to apply for the Big W job application).

Look Into Alternatives

When you are looking to save money, you might also want to consider looking into cheaper alternatives to what you buy regularly. For example, buying off-brand groceries is a great way to save a few bucks and most of the time, it doesn’t force you to sacrifice quality for a lower price.

Since you’re in a new country you’ll have to put some research into this, or at least ask around at the university for the cheapest home brands that everyone buys.


Image by CollegeDegrees360

Use the Resources Available To You

As we mentioned before, most universities have services that can help you design your resume. However, they can usually offer more help than that.

If you are new to budgeting and handling your own finances, you might want to see what tips your universities gives. In some cases, your university might even offer short courses or workshops to help you learn the most effective way to handle your budget.

You may be surprised by the scope of resources your university offers – everything from onsite medical facilities, to legal clinics, so make a note of the resources you have access to. For instance, if you find yourself in an accident while overseas you may need to speak to Your Legal Friend for advice on making a claim.


When it comes to college – especially when you are studying abroad – budgeting is absolutely crucial. After all, you need to make sure you have the money to cover your needs as well as a little bit to explore and enjoy yourself.

With the proper budgeting and the support of a part-time job, though, you won’t have any trouble. However, this doesn’t mean you are on your own.

Remember, one of the best things about college is the resources available to you. Don’t be afraid to utilize those resources when you aren’t sure how to proceed.


Apple 13.3″ MacBook Air Laptop

Canon LS-82Z Handheld Calculator

Moleskine Classic Notebook


Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 50+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.



  1. This is such great advice, thankyou! ❤

    • You’re welcome Hayley, glad you enjoyed the post :)

  2. My biggest tip for students traveling would be to not get a credit card. It can get crazy out of hand and you often don’t realize how much you’re spending when you know you have a 10 k overdraft. Can come back in serious debt. It’s much easier to manage a budget when you know you can only spend what you have.

    • Solid advice Darby – thanks for your comment :)

  3. I’ve just come back from a student exchange and it was the best thing I’ve done in my life. That said, great tip to find a part time job, but most study visas don’t let you. So I wouldn’t actually rely on that. You can usually pick up cash in hand work that doesn’t get reported, but it’s not always.

    • Glad you enjoyed the experience Julian! And absolutely on the part time work – it definitely pays to organize a work visa if you can get it :)

  4. Studying in Australia next semester. Can’t wait!

    • Exciting! Have an amazing time Meaghan :)

  5. I have my school events calendar bookmarked – there are always free events you can take advantage of, and we rock up to every event the school throws for the free food :D – bonus though, you meet a lot of cool people too :D

    • Clever hack, thanks for sharing :) Can’t beat free food!

  6. It helps if you rent your textbooks instead of buying them. Trust me, buying books is one of those hidden costs that sneaks up on you and you don’t see coming. Also, download Google translate – I found that not all my text books were in English, but the app has a wicked feature where you hover the phone over foreign text and it translates it for you live. Not an ideal way to read, but it’s better than nothing.

    • Thats such a great tip Jarrod – one I probably wouldn’t have thought of! You’re right, books cost so much money, my law books were up to $200 each for some units. That’s a considerable amount of travel money!

      Clever hack re Google translate too. Thanks for sharing :)

  7. Budgeting is hard! I came home from my semester abroad with so much debt. Worth every cent though. These are great tips.

    • It can be, but I find that solid planning really helps. Glad to hear you had a fabulous experience – hope there’s not too much left to pay off :)

  8. Interesting post. Re part time work, you can usually find on campus work at the university pretty easily.

    • Thanks Tish, glad you enjoyed the post – great tip on starting the job hunt on campus :)

  9. Heading to Italy this summer, I’m pretty set, but the currency conversion app is a great idea. Cheers.

    • Have a fabulous trip Chan, glad we could catch you before you went with some tips :)

  10. Budgeting can be an intimidating process, but if you keep on top of all your expenses and regularly assess your spending habits, you’ll find that it’s easier than you might expect.

    • Absolutely Gavin :)

  11. I’m overseas at the moment, and I can tell you, dozens of unexpected expenses arise on weekly basis. Electric bills, furniture, books and supplies. Really have to stay on top of your budget.

    • Absolutely Misael – I found it was good to have an extra fund for the things I hadn’t thought of before I left :)

  12. I think I spent as much money on food as for transportation this year – made the mistake of staying off campus. It doesn’t seem like a lot of money at first but it adds up, since bus and train fees increase with distance.

    • For sure – it definitely saves money when you’re able to walk everywhere :)

  13. Awesome advice! Thankyuo!

    • You’re welcome, glad the post was helpful Shelley :)

  14. I have an international student ID I got from STA travel before I left Australia. It’s the BEST thing I could have ever done. There are so many student concessions in the UK (and it works across Europe to because I’ve been getting cheap tours in the holidays) … retail stores, trains, events, sports games, even movies. Saves maybe 10 – 15% – it all adds up!

    • Great tip Racheal, I traveled with a similar card when I went to the UK, and you’re right, it was great for discounts on almost everything :)

  15. Yes, when you study abroad you acutely feel the problem in money. In China, with a side job it can be hard, because there you come on a study visa. It seems to me that people who go to study in Asia need a wider range of advice. But overall great tips.

    • Glad the post was helpful for you Ann. Yes, I’m sure there are many country specific tips which would help even more for exotic countries like China, being able to work is a big one, so having the right visa, or being able to get a working visa while studying is a big consideration when choosing a country.

      I hope you’re having a wonderful time on your exchange :)

Post a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *