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Save Money On and Off Campus in US: Thrifty Living Guide for International Students

Save Money On and Off Campus in US: Thrifty Living Guide for International Students

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GyanDhan brings you essential money-saving tips for on and off-campus life in US. Learn how to manage your finances effectively, reducing expenses without compromising on the rich experience of studying abroad.

GyanDhan
Anam Shams
Updated on:  19 Feb 2024  | Reviewed By: 
Aman 
| 436 | 3  min read

Excerpt by Vivek, MS in CS student at Indiana University Bloomington

When my plane landed in a new country, I was full of excitement and a bit nervous about being an international student. Soon, I learned one of my biggest challenges: managing money in a new place. My first trip to a local grocery store made me realize how important it is to handle my finances well, especially when I was surprised by the high prices. Let me share some money-saving hacks that have made my life here a lot easier and can hopefully do the same for you.

On-Campus Savings

  • list items Textbooks: Before you rush to the bookstore, hit the library. Many textbooks are available for short-term loan, and older editions can be just as useful at a fraction of the cost. Digital copies are also a wallet-friendly option.
  • list items Meal plans: They can be a trap for the unwary. If you're not a big eater or prefer to cook, go for the smallest option. You can always upgrade if necessary. Bonus: whipping up meals in the dorm kitchen is a great way to bond with friends over food.
  • list items Free food events: Keep an eye out for any campus events offering free meals. It’s a great way to save money, learn something new, and meet new people.

 

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Off-Campus Wisdom

  • list items Grocery shopping: Farmers' markets and international grocery stores often offer better deals than your average supermarket, plus you get to experiment with new cuisines. Always look out for student discounts and coupons.
  • list items Transportation: If you can, bike or use public transportation. Many places have discounted fares for students. It’s not only kinder to your wallet but also to the environment.
  • list items Entertainment on a budget: Look for student discounts for movies, museums, and other attractions. Exploring local parks or hiking trails is also a fantastic (and free) way to spend your leisure time.

Read what Vivek has to say on:

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Essentials of Budgeting for International Students

Budgeting isn't just keeping track of numbers; it's a crucial skill for navigating student life abroad. Here’s a simplified approach:

  • list items Income sources: Identify where your money is coming from. This could be family support, a part-time job, or scholarships like those from Fulbright or local government schemes.
  • list items Fixed costs: List out unavoidable expenses. Tuition fees, for instance, are a major part of your budget, alongside rent and monthly bills for utilities (electricity, internet, etc.).
  • list items Variable expenses: Budget for fluctuating costs such as groceries—where a trip to local markets might be cheaper than supermarkets—and transport, considering student discounts on public transit or bike-sharing programs.
  • list items Daily spending: Keep tabs on every small expense. The cost of daily coffee or occasional dining out can add up, impacting your budget significantly.

Pro Tip: The 6-Month Rule

Building a Safety Net: Aim to have at least six months’ worth of living expenses saved up. It's your financial cushion for the unexpected. When my laptop gave up on me right before finals, this rule saved my grades and my sanity.

Tuition Fee Reduction Strategies

  • list items Scholarship hunting: Utilize platforms like the GyanDhan scholarship portal or your university's financial aid office to find scholarships. Tailor your applications to stand out.
  • list items Graduate assistantships: These positions can offer tuition waivers and a stipend. They're not just for PhD students; master's students can benefit too.
  • list items Tuition details: Know what's included in your tuition. Some universities bundle health insurance, which can save you additional expenses.

Must Read: How I got my first internship while studying MS in CS at Indiana University Bloomington?

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Housing Expense Management

  • list items Budget allocation: Decide how much you can afford for accommodation in US, keeping in mind the cost of utilities.
  • list items Housing options: Compare on-campus housing, which might be pricier but offers convenience, with off-campus options that could be cheaper but require careful vetting for safety and location.
  • list items Review insights: Use platforms like RateMyLandlord or student forums to get a feel for potential housing.
  • list items Transport costs: Living further from campus might seem cheaper until you factor in the cost and time of commuting.
  • list items Stay economical: Opt for shared housing or student dorms to keep costs low.

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Economical Transportation and Entertainment

  • list items Public transport over cars: Take advantage of student discounts for buses and trains, and look into city bike-share schemes.
  • list items Cultural events: Utilize sites like Eventbrite for free or low-cost events. Museums often have free entry days, and universities host various free activities.
  • list items Local festivals: Participate in community events which are usually free. They're great for experiencing local culture without spending much.
  • list items Discounted outings: Many cinemas and museums offer student discounts. Keep an eye out for deals through student unions or community boards.

In conclusion, mastering the art of thrifty living as an international student doesn't mean cutting out the fun; it's about smart spending that enhances your educational journey abroad. By adopting a few savvy financial habits, you can enjoy a rich and fulfilling experience without overstretching your budget. Remember, the most valuable part of studying abroad isn't the money you spend, but the memories you make and the knowledge you gain.

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