Money Kate Mitchell

Exchange on a Budget

Chloe – Semester Exchange to St John’s University, NY, USA

Semester 2, 2016

Exchange on a Shoe String: Budget Tips

  • Before you depart, over budget for what you think you’ll need. It’s always better to come home with money then be too short of money when you’re overseas.
  • Try not to make a habit of eating out too much. It’s inevitable you will be eating out in the first few weeks, or even on the weekends, but once you’ve settled into your semester do your best to cook as much as possible.  Pinterest is a great resource for tasty, budget friendly meal ideas.
  • Make a habit of writing down your daily spend. It is so much easier to account for larger spends such as a jacket or a bus ticket interstate.  It’s the small spends that add up and you start to lose track of (coffees, lunches, a t-shirt).  That’s not to say you shouldn’t spend your money on those things, but if you start to write them down you have a better idea of where your funds go, and where you could make adjustments to your spending habits.
  • Avoid buying food or beverages regularly in tourist spots. For example, the same hot dog that is sold at Bryant Park is probably twice as expensive as the one that is sold a few streets down on the corner of a less busy road.
  • Talk to people who have travelled to your chosen destination before you depart, get an idea of how much things cost, what to pack so you don’t need to buy anything unnecessarily
  • Don’t buy water when you’re out exploring… this is such a sneaky cost that adds up quickly. Watch your carbon footprint and save money by refilling a bottle!
  • A great app I believe everyone should download before going abroad is XE Currency exchange. This app converts your currency to any chosen foreign currency without using data, perfect when you’re out and about and don’t have service, or internet access.  Just keep in mind that when you download the app, download all the currencies you wish to use whilst connected to the wifi as you cannot add them once you’re not online!
  • Whilst in New York, I was able to check certain websites for discounted Broadway tickets. These shows would be midweek during the afternoon but were sold for sometimes 50% off.  This would be the exact same show that would be available on the weekends, for half the price! Make sure you are always looking online and talking to locals about where to snatch up the best bargains when it comes to bigger ticket items such as a Broadway ticket.
  • Thift stores and 99 cent stores are also excellent for those who are going for an extended period of time. Don’t waste your money spending double the amount on fancy things like plates or appliances.  Thrift stores and discount stores have great items at a fraction of the cost.  I also found it useful to purchase items such as toiletries and cleaning products such as laundry liquid at 99 cent stores and saved a tone of money over the course of my semester by doing this!

It’s important to remember that this is a once in a lifetime experience, and money can severely impact your time away as it could limit or provide opportunity for you to experience more.  Sometimes, budgeting strictly can burden your time so over budgeting is crucial, allow yourself to enjoy your trip the best you can!