Get a job, or two!
There is so much appeal to traveling abroad--you get to learn the customs of a completely different culture, to witness the historic locations featured in your history books, and savor exotic foods that you would never be able to find in your hometown. But for most college students, there is one major deterrent: funding. You've got $100 in the bank, and rent is due in a week. Well don't fret, young grasshopper, and remember that anything you save now will equate to greater opportunities on your study abroad adventure. We've got some tips to help you save up for your big trip.
1. Get a Job
If you want to save money, first you have to have money. It's time to pound the pavement, get out in the real world, and find yourself a job (if you don't already have one--in which case, give yourself a pat on the back). There are plenty of great part-time opportunities for college students. Students often turn to retail and the food industry for the flexibility they offer. So head down to the corner coffee shop and ask for an application! If you're feeling ultra-motivated, you may even try to juggle multiple jobs! An unintended benefit: Working while you attend college looks great on a resume.
It's going to be really hard not to go out and blow your first paycheck on those fancy PF Flyers you've been eyeing at the mall for weeks. But you're a responsible adult now, and it's time to put a budget into place. Break down your expenses into categories such as groceries, bills, spending money, and, most importantly, study abroad. Assign a specific percentage of each paycheck toward each of these categories and stick to it. You could also put your smart phone to good use with budget apps.
3. Open a Savings Account
Most college students open a checking account before they leave for college and often forget about the savings account. You can use your savings account as a piggy bank for your study abroad savings. You accrue a small amount of interest by keeping your money in a savings account (usually a very, very small interest, but you know what they say: A penny saved is a penny earned). Keep in mind that most banks allow you to link your checking and savings accounts, which would allow you to make withdrawals from your savings account using an ATM. So, if you plan on actually saving your savings, it's suggested to use independent accounts. Move money to a savings account and don't touch it!
Frugal habits now will (literally) pay off in the end!
4. Get a Piggy Bank
Right now you're saying to yourself, "a piggy bank?!?! What am I, six years old?" This is a normal thought for piggy bank-less folks like yourself, but give it a try, and your attitude will change. If you collect your loose change at the end of every day, or even every week, the funds can really add up. Do this for a year, and you might end up with over $200. Not bad for spare change. Hint: I have an aunt who always saves every $5 bill that comes her way - she swears by it!
5. Cut Coupons
Never underestimate the power of coupon cutting. Newspapers usually feature coupon inserts on Sundays and Thursdays, but with the invention of the Internet, you don't even have to buy the newspaper. There are plenty of coupon-related websites that allow you to print them from the comfort of your own computer chair. All it takes is a five-minute Google search, and you'll be gold, Ponyboy. (We've even found Semester at Sea deals on Groupon!)
6. Buy Generic
You can save a ton of money by buying generic brands. In some cases, generic isn't always the best option (see: toilet paper), but oftentimes the only difference between two products is the brand name itself. The following is a list of a few products that are always safe to buy generic: cleaning products, over-the-counter medications, batteries, cereal, gasoline, and personal-care items (toothpaste, cotton swabs, razors, contact solution, etc.). Avoid wasteful spending and pocket those extra dollars saved for an extra scoop of gelato while studying abroad in Italy.
7. Plan a Virtual Yard Sale
A car wash or a candy sale are few of many dandy ways to fundraise, but unless you're working with a team of people to coordinate these things, it can become a bit overwhelming. Instead, consider a virtual "yard sale". Go through your belongings, and collect anything that you no longer want or need---furniture, clothing, books, collectors' items, knick-knacks, etc.---and place them up for sale on eBay or Craigslist. You can even share the links on your Facebook or Twitter pages to create a little buzz. However, if selling on the internet makes you cringe, consider finding a local consignment shop!
There are a ton of scholarship opportunities for study abroad out there for students. Be diligent in seeking out and applying for new scholarships every day. As is always true with applying to scholarships, you should stay on top of things--don't procrastinate. The earlier you start this process, the more success you are likely to have. For those of you that do struggle with the follow-through (and those of you that don't), be sure to check out the College Prowler $2000 No-Essay Scholarship.
Cut out wasteful spending and become more disciplined in your saving. Talk to other students who have studied abroad in your intended destination to see if they have any good tips from their experiences. While these are just a few simple tips for saving the money you need to take the study abroad trip of your dreams, there are certainly many more ideas out there - what has worked for you?
- The ABC's of study abroad: B is for BUDGET.
- 40 Exciting Ways to fundraise for study abroad.
- Check out our 60+ scholarship database!