Alumni Tips for Creating a Study Abroad Budget

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Trying to balance enjoying authentic restaurants, taking bucket-list trips, and visiting all your host city’s hot spots? Sounds like you’re in need of a study abroad budget. Read on for tips from IES Abroad Ambassadors, recent alumni who are ready and eager to help you make the most of study abroad – no matter the size of your bank account.

Determine Your Preferred Budget Strategy

  • “Personally, I allowed myself to spend within reason for the first few weeks. Once I found an average that I was spending, I used that as my weekly budget so I wouldn't overspend too much in later weeks.”
    – Sophia B. (IES Abroad Barcelona, Spring 2017 | University of Wisconsin – Madison)
  • “I had a set amount of money going into my semester that was my overall budget. I divided this budget by the number of months I was abroad. I got a credit card that had no international fees, and I paid it monthly with my allotted amount.”
    – Sadie D. (IES Abroad Auckland, Fall 2017 | University of Rochester)
  • “For study abroad budgets, it is important to start budgeting from the start before you are spending money freely, and then try to budget whatever amount you have left. I budgeted so I was able to have as much money as possible for weekend traveling and spending.”
    – Cara H. (IES Abroad Amsterdam, Fall 2017 | Penn State University)

Shopping in Chefchaoen, Morocco

Overestimate Costs

  • “I would recommend over budgeting, leaving yourself plenty of wiggle room for unexpected expenses –for example, I had two friends who had to buy new phones while abroad. I'd add about $10 to each known expense. For example, if you know public transport costs will be $40 a month, then budget $50, and you'll have extra money in the end for travel that you saved by accident. Additionally, make sure to take into account exchange rates.”
    – Spencer A. (IES Abroad European Union, Spring 2017 | George Washington University)

Prioritize Your Expenses

  • “Decide what is most important to you, and prioritize based on that. For example, I valued experiences and food over comfort, so when I traveled around, I booked overnight buses (which meant that I didn't have to pay for a hostel room or a flight, but also that I didn't get a whole lot of sleep and wasn't very comfortable) and splurged on nice food, museum tickets, and tours.
    – Julia M. (IES Abroad European Union, Summer 2017 | University of Puget Sound)

Students sitting on bench in the Royal Botanical Gardens in Madrid

Plan for Visiting Friends & Family

  • “Know that if friends come to visit, you'll likely spend more money than you typically would on your own.”
    – Mikaela S. (IES Abroad Amsterdam, Fall 2017 | Purdue University)

Ask Past Students on Your Program

  • “Ask previous students what to expect for daily expenses and how much traveling costs on a student budget. I was able to go in with some expectations for how many trips I wanted to take and how much I wanted to spend. I was able to keep track of my daily purchases and come up with a budget goal within a few weeks.”
    – Liz J. (IES Abroad Buenos Aires, Fall 2017 | Case Western Reserve University)

Don’t know anyone who has studied abroad on your program before? No worries. Contact an IES Abroad Ambassador.

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