Even with scholarships, studying abroad can still be expensive. It’s so important to keep an eye on your finances back home while you are away. Letting your spending habits get too out of control can be a recipe for disaster. To avoid ruining your credit score or going into debt, here are a few key tips to keep in the back of your mind.
- Tell your bank
As soon as your plans are all finalized, the next thing you should do is call or stop by your bank. See if your bank has any local or affiliate branches where you will be staying and/or what what features you’ll have access to. While you are at it, discuss what ATM fees you will be charged while trying to access your funds. Before you leave the States, it’s a good idea to get a small amount of your new home’s currency. With all of your new surroundings, you’ll be too busy to look for an ATM or currency exchange so it’ll be nice to have some money already on hand.
- Use a TracFone
Unless you’re lucky enough to have a global phone plan, chances are you’ll have to purchase a new cell phone in your host country. Do a little research on local plans and what they might include. Even for those who do have a global plan, it might be easier to just pick up a TracFone and use that. If you’re super cheap like me, keep in mind that many smartphone apps can run just on WIFI. Whether it be IMessage, Facetime, or Facebook, it shouldn’t be hard to keep up with friends near and far.
- Learn to safely carry cash
Depending on where you decide to study abroad, ATMs and banks may be hard to track down, so you’ll want to always keep cash on your person. Get a money belt! They typically aren’t the most trendy accessory, but they are easily concealed. Store your passport, cash, and cards here; it’ll give you easy access, but not thieves. If you absolutely cannot stand the idea of a money belt, don’t keep your cash or cards in your back pockets or bag.
- Keep an eye on your finances
Even though you might not be home, it’s important to stay up to date on your finances and spending habits. To avoid any missed payment fees, set up an online billing-payment system. Whether it be cable, storage, or Netflix, make sure that your bills are being paid in a timely fashion. Don’t forget to check whether or not your bank has an app or website that tracks your purchases. This can help you in a pinch if you need to move around some finances or put a limit on your spending habits.
Sam Culp is a senior at the University of Kentucky studying Economics and History. She participated in the UK Consortia program KIIS Austria in the summer of 2015.