Managing your money when studying abroad

TransferWise content team
2 minute read

Every student wants to save money and we’re always on the lookout for the next bargain.

Your year abroad, is no exception. Daniel Lee, one of our student bloggers, has compiled his top tips for saving some cash.

Explore different banking options


When I was asking for money advice in the UK, it was suggested that I get a credit card. I was fairly cautious as it’s all very well and good spending it - remembering to pay it back before being charged interest was my worry. This also doesn’t solve the problem of foreign bank charges for using your card overseas.

Creating a bank account abroad is another option. This can save you being ripped off by hefty international fees as most UK banks charge you for using your card abroad. I haven’t opened a bank account while in Spain as I am only here for a term before completing my erasmus year in Italy.

If you’re studying abroad in the same location for a longer period though, it’s really worth looking into. Companies such as TransferWise are a great solution if you do decide to open a bank account. They make sending money overseas cheap and easy.

My friend Nadia opened a bank account in Spain and is very positive about her experience:

“It took me 15 minutes, all I needed was my ID and address. If you need to move money from your home country to Spain, there is a charge which is different for everyone. I would make larger transfers, less often, if you can. But I would recommend it as it is quick and easy to use.”

Food Shopping


Before doing your food shop, write a list of the items you actually need in advance.

This may be a little more time consuming, but it avoids picking up random items that you forget about and just throw away when you discover they’ve gone off anyway. Stick to store brands as they’re normally much cheaper than branded foods. Sometimes supermarkets aren’t the best place for fruit and veg - smaller businesses can be cheaper and sometimes offer deals for returning customers.

Socialising doesn’t always have to be expensive


It’s not hard for our social lives to quickly become expensive, but it doesn’t always have to be.

Budget nights out are easily doable, you just need to look around a little bit for the cheapest bars. For example, in A Coruña a new bar has just opened that sells Caña’s (a pint) for only €0.50 - an absolute bargain.

Get your budget organised


From my experience, the key to saving money is having a budget and sticking to it.

Work out how much money you’ll have throughout your year abroad and break it down to give yourself a monthly allowance. Be realistic with this, so remember to include rent, bills, food and allow for extra expenses.

There are plenty of great apps for managing your finances from your smartphone to help keep your organised.

Daniel Lee, currently on his Erasmus year in A Coruña, Spain

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