What I think my study abroad budget will be like…
Creating a budget for your semester abroad is about as much fun as watching paint dry–yet it’s one of those necessary evils you must endure if you have any hope of surviving your semester abroad. Studying abroad is without a doubt one of the best times you will ever have in your life–except for when you start realizing how much money you’re about to spend! The bane of most students’ existence while abroad is creating and sticking to a budget. Generally speaking, studying overseas is an opportunity that you have either saved up money for by working your butt off all summer, or Mom and Dad are nice enough to bankroll the semester, but they have actually put you on a budget!
So, how do you begin planning when…
- You are in a foreign country
- It’s time for a little indulgence
- You want to travel to all of the awesome locations in Europe offered by FlorenceForFun
- You want to accessorize yourself with all of the leather goods and gold markets around the city (trust us, they will haunt you! especially during sale season)
Below are some helpful hints to start yourself off on the right foot and take you through your semester abroad while, hopefully, staying relatively close to your budget!
*Note: First thing to understand and accept is… the probability of you going over your initial budget is 99 out of 100 %. But don’t fret my pet, it is absolutely worth every penny!!!
1. Creating the Initial Budget
The best thing you can do to learn how far your money will go is to divide up your life into sections, such as:
- Living Expenses
- Program Expenses
- Note: Always search for any additional fees for courses that are not included in the cost of tuition!
- Group Excursions
- Travel Expenses
- Additional trips
- Communication Expenses
- Cell Phones
- Personal Expenses
For those iPhone and Android users, the app Mint.com has a great program for creating and checking up on your budget. Once you have allocated money to each section of your life, pat yourself on the back! You have gotten over the biggest hurdle.
2. Do your Research!!
The first bit of research that you should do before you leave home is talking with your bank to see if they partner with any banks in Florence – or if they are willing to waive the ATM fees for you! Those $5 fees rack up quickly!! Bank of America has a partner bank in Florence, BNL, that you can use without ATM fees–as does Chase (partner bank=Unicredit Banca di Roma, Sella Banca).
The next thing you want to research is the museums, travel, shopping and types of presents that you want to buy for yourself, your family and friends. This is where the majority of your money is going to evaporate.
What is important to know for museums are the offers that are available. For example, one option to save money is to get the “Amici degli Uffizi” (Friends of the Uffizi) card. This membership card offers its members a year-long museum card for 60 euro ($80) for individuals, and 40 euro ($54) for students. Membership=free entry to more than twenty museums, AND you can skip waiting in line! Ask if your program includes the Amici degli Uffizi card (a lot of programs do).
Now comes the fun part–researching all the places you want to travel to during the semester! Don’t be fooled by low-cost airlines–the deals might look good initially, but often the additional costs add up to much more than you’ll want to pay, so read the fine print before giving your money away. The aim of FlorenceForFun is to be able to provide students with unique experiences that would be difficult to organize on your own and to provide transport, accommodation and extras packages for less money than if you organized the trip independently. The tours include day trips in Italy, weekend trips in Italy and Europe, long weekends and fall break 10-day tours. So grab a drink, sit down at your computer and spend 30 minutes checking out the different trips that are available on our website. All of the prices are listed in order to help you calculate and stay within your budget!
The final thing you can do to keep yourself on course with your budget once you have made all of your major purchases through your program, trips and any other extras, is to follow-up on yourself.
- Check the up-to-date exchange rate often.
- Be continuously looking and asking for the student discounts – they are likely everywhere!
- Be checking yourself on how much you are spending when you go out to see if you are accidentally buying too many rounds of shots!
All of this aside, things happen. There will most likely be a major expense that occurs that is unexpected. Just take a deep breath and do what you have to do! You only live in Florence once, so live it up while you can!!
Article written by Alexandra Means and Gina Baxter