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Top 5 money-mistakes that international students can avoid

As an international student abroad it is very important to keep track of one's finances. This article will give you tips on money-management.

Mahesh Ramani

Try not to use your credit card to withdraw money from an ATM. Always verify if special transaction charges are being levied when you use your credit or debit card outside the country of issue.

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Money, money, money — in more ways than one, a word that plays such an important role in all our lives. From the cradle to the crypt, money plays a significant role in everything associated with our lives.

As a student planning to go abroad to study, it is very important that you plan your finances carefully and learn to get value for every cent or penny that you spend. This article examines the top-five money-mistakes made by students and gives tips on financial management.

The Currency Exchange Value

The currency exchange value is a very important factor; notice that the Indian Rupee has oscillated between Rs 50 and Rs 70 over the past two years. When you translate that into a tuition plus accommodation fee transfer of about USD 45,000 every year; it is a huge amount of money. You can save a significant amount if you time the currency-conversion charts properly. Remember every cent that you save will help you.

International Fund Transfer

If you are initiating a fund transfer from your home country to the institution, ensure that you do it well in advance stipulating the correct account number and all associated transfer codes. Do not provide the wrong number and tear your head in frustration. Attention to detail and diligence is the key. Always print out and keep copies of any transaction confirmation-receipts that you get from the bank and the educational institution. These copies act as proof of payment.

Local Bank Account and Health Insurance

Once you reach your institution; you are likely to have a ‘Student Orientation Program’ — one of the key elements of this would be the opening of a local bank account and securing health insurance. A local bank account makes sense as it helps you save money on international transaction fees, and in-case you get a part-time job you can cash-in your cheques in the local account. Medical emergencies and illnesses cannot be predicted; so in case you are planning to study in the USA or Australia, your institution will mandate that you opt for health insurance. In the UK, you will be asked to register with a registered medical practitioner.

Credit Cards

Always notify your bank when you travel abroad — this is a preventive measure to ensure that the bank does not flag your international purchases via credit card as fraudulent transactions. Never ever use your credit card to withdraw money from an ATM. Always verify if special transaction charges will be levied if you use your credit/debit card outside the country of issue. In essence, read the fine-print when you sign-up for a credit card. 

Scholarships and Bank Loans

Unless you come from a lineage of Maharajas or wealthy industrialists, a bit of monetary help will always be useful. So do the research, take that extra effort to scout for relevant scholarships and bank loans, which will help you pay for your international education. Read our article on bank loans for some useful tips. When compared to the UK, international students in the USA and Australia have lesser scholarships on offer — so choose wisely.

Managing your Finances

Eating out, extravagant parties, travelling across Europe or the USA all look great in the movies and on Facebook posts of students; but remember everything has a cost associated with it. A bit of fun is a must when being away in a foreign land; but remember to plan your expenses carefully. You don’t want to end up being a pauper in a foreign land.

Some Tips

  • Use your credit card/debit card judiciously; do not default on repayments.
  • If you can find shared accommodation with friends — go for it, and save on rent.
  • Live closer to your campus to save money on travel.
  • Learn to cook food — the taste of food cooked on your own is special.
  • If your university permits — seek a part-time job.
  • A movie-ticket in India costs between Rs 175 and Rs 300; in the USA you may pay about US$15 to US$20 — work out the Math and plan your entertainment.
  • A significant part of your studies would involve the internet and a laptop. So invest in a good sturdy laptop. 
  • In countries like Singapore you can get a Student Pass, which gives you discounts on public transport. Wherever possible opt for public transport, which is fast, reliable and on time.

Image credit: www.thisismoney.co.uk

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