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Study abroad: How to cut costs

November 12, 2013 11:23 IST

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Spending when studying away from home is inevitable, but spending less is a simple matter of intelligence and budgeting. Here are the specific areas you can save money while on campus abroad

The best way to make sure you don't spend through your nose is to research how much money you will need while in a foreign country and make sure you don't spend more than that.

Keep a monthly or weekly log of your expenses and compensate in the following weeks if you overspend in one week.

Also set aside specific dates to receive money transfers from India and save money so that you don't go broke before those deadlines.

Here are a few more tips that can help you curtail your studying and living costs abroad.

Currency exchange

The first step to saving on your expenses is to keep tabs on the exchange rate between the rupee and the currency of the country you are planning on studying in.

Make sure you convert your rupees when you get the best exchange rate.

Many Indian students who were planning on studying in the USA and UK in the month of September this year waited until before leaving India to convert their rupees into dollars or pounds which lead to huge losses since the value of the rupee dropped by 18 per cent over time.

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Study abroad: How to cut costs

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Buying textbooks

Purchasing new textbooks is fairly expensive abroad.

In certain countries new textbooks amount to US$1000 every semester which means you may pay anywhere between US$2000 and US$3000 a year.

It would be better to purchase used textbooks.

It is also possible to rent textbooks and other study material from textbook rental companies.

Resell any textbooks you have purchased when you are done using them to minimise costs for your next semester.

Online stores like eBay occasionally sell books at 10 per cent of their retail value; you can purchase these for use and sell them at the end of the semester to recover your costs.

E-books are also good options since Amazon has activated textbook rentals on the Kindle e-book reader. If all fails, head to the university library.

Study abroad: How to cut costs

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Lodging and accomodation

Living with relatives usually turns out to be the cheapest option since you will save on expensive lodging and food costs.

On-campus lodging usually tends to be expensive but is also convenient since it helps minimise travel time to and from classes.

Try securing a bed for yourself while bunking with a room-mate; this will help you cut down on costs drastically.

Alternatively, you can rent out an apartment near the university with two or more flatmates.

Having accommodation on campus or nearby will also help cut down your travelling costs.

Also remember to pick a semi-furnished apartment to reduce costs of furnishing; free furniture can be found on streets of residential areas where people discard furniture which can still be used if sanitary.

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Study abroad: How to cut costs

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Entertainment and Communication

At home

A computer is a vital investment. Invest in a good internet plan and a cheap cell phone plan.

A good internet plan will allow convenient international calls to family and friends via services like Skype.

You don't need an expensive phone plan; make do with basic call and messaging schemes.

Another positive to a good internet plan is the eradication of the need for cable or satellite TV.

Sign up for online services like Netflix and Hulu which let you watch TV shows and movies at your convenience.

While going out

Remember to visit restaurants and pubs during happy hours. It helps bring down socialising expenses.

Visiting the theatre for matinee shows is always economical since they are less crowded and priced lower than night shows.

A matinee show will also reduce your spending on snacks since you can eat a meal before or after the show.

Study abroad: How to cut costs

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Student discounts

One of the biggest positives is the availability of student discounts.

Universities tie up with local businesses to provide discounts to students; check with your university personnel to know more.

Student friendly cities also provide discounts for everything from public transport, mega stores and restaurants to movie tickets, museums and music festivals.

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Study abroad: How to cut costs

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The best way to save money on food is by signing up for campus meals.

Most universities offer this option to international students where registering for a nominal fee can get you regular meals at the university cafeteria.

If not, you could always buy food at the cafeteria when required.

If you are living off-campus, get together with a group to make cooking and eating meals a social event which will also help you save money.

You can take turns to cook meals and minimise costs by cooking in bulk as opposed to preparing small servings.

For groceries, purchase store brands rather than high-end brands; the quality is usually the same but at cheaper prices.

If eating out, patronise 'happy hour' timings at restaurants and pubs; also remember to package leftovers for future meals.

Cafes are usually expensive so brew your own coffee as much as possible.

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Study abroad: How to cut costs

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Walk over short distances to avoid spending unnecessarily.

When transport is required, remember that public transport is always the cheapest.

Public transport systems in most countries are well connected, especially in metropolitan cities.

They also have facilities of pass systems to help reduce costs.

When you have free time to explore, travelling within the city/ town you are living in keeps the strain on your wallet low and also gives you opportunities to discover more about the culture of the place where you are temporarily residing.

Make your travel convenient by avoiding peak hours; public transport will be less crowded which will reduce the need for expensive taxi services.

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