We get it. Financing your study abroad program is one of the most challenging and least fun parts of the entire process—but there are a lot of easy ways to save money so that you don’t have to stress about money once you land in your host city.
While you’re daydreaming about all the fresh sushi you’ll have in Tokyo, or the hiking you’ll do in the hills of New Zealand, try some of these tips on how to save money and watch how quickly your savings stacks up!
1. Open an online savings account
Be smart and intentional with your money. Look at what you’re spending and calculate where you can cut back. That difference is what goes into your study abroad bank account. Try out the Mint app to help you get organized if you’re new to budgeting!
2. Save your change
It can be hard to put those big bills straight into a savings account, especially on a student dime, so why not save your change instead? You can do it in the literal way (by tossing loose coins into a piggy bank) or—since it’s the 21st century—why not download an app for that instead! Acorn, which rounds your purchases up to the nearest dollar and saves the difference in an online account, makes micro-saving easy and painless.
3. Sell your gently used clothing
Buying, trading, and selling used clothing is a hugely popular trend for people of all ages and incomes. Search out a consignment shop in your neighborhood and pack up all those trendy clothes you thought you would wear but definitely didn’t. You can even sell clothes from the comfort of your home with the influx of online consignment stores. Word of advice: your best bet is to sell clothes that match the season. In other words, your parka won’t sell very well in the middle of July.
4. Give up buying coffee (or another vice) for 3 months
This might sound impossible, but trust us, you can do it. Give up coffee or (another item you spend money on frequently) and keep track of how much money you save each day by either forgoing it totally or by making your own. The nous-nous you have at a cafe in Morocco will be worth it.
5. Cancel memberships that you don’t use
Remember that promise you made after the New Year to go to the gym three times a week? Or was it yoga instead? Yeah, we’ve all been there—it just didn’t happen. Cutting out a membership you don’t use can save you a lot of money, fast. Take the dogs for a walk, run with friends, or join a club sport to get your fitness on for free.
6. Do more free stuff
Let your friends know you’re working on saving money and plan out free festivals and events to attend, cook dinner instead of eating out, and enjoy movie nights or game nights whenever you can. Once you’re abroad you’ll be grateful for the extra cash to spend on incredible activities and trips!
7. Cut back transportation costs
This one speaks for itself. Stop Uber-ing everywhere and start biking! Or, if you do use a taxi service, cut back costs by pooling with other riders. Who knows, maybe you’ll even make a new friend!
8. Ask family members and friends for hand-me-down travel goods
A huge cost in the preparation of study abroad comes from travel gear. Chances are your family and friends probably have a lot of this stuff already! Ask around to borrow suitcases, plane pillows, camera cases, and travel bags, and you’ll save mucho dinero.
9. Search for cheap flights and student discounts
There’s a plethora of sites and services specifically for students that aim to make travel easy, affordable, and accessible. StudentUniverse and STATravel are two of the top providers—Because, why spend money like a grown-up when you can spend it like a student instead?
10. Change your mentality around your purchases, don’t impulse buy!
Even though instant gratification is an awesome feeling we all love, you’ll have to start thinking long-term to successfully save before your trip. Don’t’ impulse buy! Put down that video game, those new Nikes, or that over-priced music festival ticket (the line-up’s not even that good!).
11. Find odd jobs
Dog walking, house cleaning, tutoring neighborhood kids, personal grocery shopping, and lawn mowing are some easy ways to make extra cash. Be creative, and you’ll find that there’s many more ways to make money fast by helping out family, friends, or neighbors with simple tasks.
12. Use coupons and codes, buy second hand
Don’t feel the need to buy everything brand new or full price. Cut coupons and look for promo codes so you can save money buying that GoPro you need for abroad. EBay and Amazon will always get you great deals on new or barely used products.
13. Stop dating
This is a harsh one, but if you’re serious about saving (and you go on a lot of dates) this might just be the tip for you. Cut out the cost of dinner and drinks and save that money to spend on all the cuties you’re bound to meet abroad.
14. Set up a fundraising campaign
GoFundMe, Kickstarter, and other crowd funding websites have proved super successful for many students trying to self-fund their study abroad trip. By setting up a crowd funding project, you can reach out to friends, family members, and other acquaintances in an easy and approachable manner. Give it a go!
15. Move home
Hands down one of the best (albeit maybe not the most painless) ways to save a large amount of money fast. Your parents want to see you before your trip anyway! Say “hello” again to your childhood bedroom.
Check out our scholarship and financial aid offerings for more ways to save money for study abroad. Want advice, travel tips, and first-hand accounts of what's happening at our Centers around the world? Head to our student blogs!
For the fifth year in a row, IES Abroad is participating in #GivingTuesday—a global day of giving. On November 27th, join us as we set out to increase access to study abroad by raising funds for IES Abroad Scholarships.
Meet Ely Key (IES Abroad Buenos Aires, Spring 2006), President and CEO of Up Mountain Switchel. In our interview, discover how seeing young Argentines celebrate and share their culture inspired Ely to co-found Up Mountain Switchel.