Global Graduates' Guide to Smart Money Management: Financial Tips for International Students
The Significance of Financial Management for International Students Abroad”
Understanding the value of effective money management becomes increasingly evident when you embark on your journey as an international student in a foreign country like the UK or the United States. Being away from home means navigating a new financial landscape with potentially higher expenses. These can include groceries, food, utilities, rent, transportation, and even gym memberships, all incurred at varying frequencies. To help you become a savvy money manager, here are some valuable tips:
- Open a Bank Account: Setting up a bank account in your host country, such as the UK, is a relatively straightforward process. Many prominent UK banks offer special facilities, like overdrafts, to support students. These include Natwest, RBS, Barclays, HSBC, Santander, and TSB, among others. They usually offer free or low-cost international money transfers. Consider comparing these banks to find the one that suits your needs.
- Have a Financial Plan and Utilize Student Discounts: Create a flexible but well-thought-out financial plan or budget, keeping in mind your income and expected expenses. Initially, your expenses might be high, but they can decrease as you become more familiar with your host country. For instance, the average living cost for a single student in the UK is approximately £250 per week. However, the UK government mandates that international students have £1334 per month in London or £1023 per month in outer London. These figures can serve as guidelines for your budget.
- For utilities like gas, electricity, and water, expect to pay around £40 to £50 per month.
- When it comes to mobile phone services, you can limit expenses by choosing affordable plans or buying a smartphone without an expensive contract.
- Explore student discounts, which are available for various services. These discounts can help you save money on groceries, clothes, transportation, and entertainment.
- Shop Smart: To save on clothing expenses, consider shopping at discount fashion retailers like Primark, as well as mid-range brands like Zara, H&M, Mango, Urban Outfitters, and River Island. For groceries, stores like Aldi and Lidl offer budget-friendly options, while larger chains like Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, and Morrisons provide a wider selection. Additionally, some retailers offer value range food products.
- Utilities: If you plan to rent a house with friends, research different gas and electricity plans from various companies to find the most cost-effective option. If you’re staying in university or private halls, these bills are often included in your rent.
- Explore Student Discounts: Make use of the National Union of Students (NUS) card, which costs only £12 per year and offers discounts at various stores. It can save you an average of £500 annually.
- Manage Eating Out: Be mindful of your budget when dining out. Fast-food chains and individual fast-food shops often provide budget-friendly options. Look for student discounts, as many places offer deals to students.
- Entertainment: Enjoying movies and social activities can be budget-friendly in the UK. Cinemas like Odeon, Cineworld, and Vue offer student discounts. If you’re a movie enthusiast, consider getting a student card from cinemas like Cineworld, where you can watch movies for as little as £3 per movie or unlimited movies for £15.70 per month. Engaging in social events can enhance your student life experience, so allocate some funds for these activities. Additionally, consider budgeting for trips to the countryside and historical sites to enrich your overall experience in the UK.
While budgeting may seem challenging, especially during the initial months, planning and research can prevent financial vulnerabilities. Balancing full-time studies with part-time work and coursework preparation may tempt you to skip budgeting, but it’s a crucial skill to ensure you have the resources you need during your international student journey.