Managing your Money
Study abroad usually entails a drastic shift in the way you manage your money. Our best advice is "Don't spend all your money in once place!" Your money will need to make it through the several months of study abroad. No longer will you have a University of Rochester "flex account," or a meal plan. Instead, you'll find yourself paying for daily expenses out of the pocket, with cash or credit.
Many students use ATM cards to withdraw cash (in the local currency) from money machines. Some ATM cards may be incompatible with machines overseas: make sure your card has the "Cirrus" or "Plus" logo on the back. Parents or family at home may be able to monitor (or feed, if necessary) the bank account from this end while you withdraw from abroad. Some students find it convenient to open an account with a major international bank that has offices overseas. Check with the bank before opening an account, in order to be sure that you will be able to access your account in the country where you'll be studying.
Students may also find that a convenient method of managing their money while overseas is through the use of credit cards. The acceptability of credit cards varies greatly from country to country; in order to find out which credit card is accepted in the country where you're planning to study, check with the card issuer or with a student who has been there. Remember, too, that credit cards can be as risky as they are convenient. Without a certain amount of discipline and budgeting, you might return from abroad with a staggering credit card debt.
The Credit Education Bureau, which has an office in Rochester, can suggest smart and effective ways to keep track of your credit card expenses.
Although there are many exciting things to do and purchase while you are abroad, pace yourself. Devise a budget and stick to it as closely as you can.
It is much more expensive to live in some cities and countries, such as London, Rome, Paris and Tokyo, than in even the most expensive American cities. On the other hand, there are places where the cost of living is less than in the United States, such as some locations in Eastern Europe or Latin America. Keep in mind that fluctuating exchange rates can make it more expensive to live overseas. The country that is a bargain this semester may not be a bargain next year. Investigate daily costs of living in the location where you plan to study abroad. The programs to which you apply should be able to provide you with estimated living costs. Students who have returned from study abroad are also good sources of up-to-date information.
The Center for Study Abroad, the Financial Aid Office, or your program sponsor can provide you with a list of estimated costs for your overseas studies, along with a budget sheet to help you plan your expenses. Actual costs depend heavily on your style of living and will vary with individual habits, preferences, travel choices and currency fluctuations. The budget sheet can help you manage your spending habits. It includes categories such as meals, in-country transportation, entertainment costs, museum admission, books, application fees, photocopying, travel documents, insurance, and vaccinations.