How to Turn Sense into Dollars: Saving Smart for Your Study Abroad Experience in the U.S.

Studying in the U.S. is a great educational opportunity. But, like all good things, it comes at a price that reflects the quality it offers. With some of the highest college tuition rates in the world, you can count on making a pretty big investment for your overseas American education. The U.S. might be the birthplace of the McDonald’s dollar menu, but if you’re not down with burgers and fries for every meal, you better get your finances in order before you study abroad.

1. Request Money in Lieu of Gifts

Most people start saving for study abroad trips at least a year before they head out, which means you have plenty of holidays and birthdays to cash in. Although it might be in poor taste to approach your friends and family asking for cash as a gift, just make sure to drop that hint if anyone ever asks you up-front what you’d like. If you feel obligated to ask for some non-monetary gifts, request items that you would have spent money on for the trip anyway, like luggage, clothing and an airplane ticket.

2. Take Precautions

If you ever read international news, you probably know that the health care system in the U.S. isn’t exactly financially accommodating. If you were to become seriously ill or injured while abroad, your treatment could end up costing you thousands of dollars. A study abroad travel insurance policy would keep you covered in case of an emergency, so you can get the care you need without draining your savings. Be sure to have a back-up savings account as well for other emergency expenses.

3. Find an Extra Source of Income

If you’ve already got a job, see how often you can squeeze in a few extra hours waiting tables or bartending on the weekend for extra cash. Clear out your closets and storage rooms and have a yard sale to scrape together as much as possible. Try to complete as many odd jobs as possible during your free time: babysitting, dog-walking, tutoring and even becoming a movie extra. See how creative you can get with monetizing your talents– take professional photos, sell your original artwork and/or play the piano at a cocktail lounge.

4. Cut Out Unnecessary Expenses

Do you really need lavish shopping trips, expensive dinners out and the latest gadgets? As much as these items might buy your happiness temporarily, delaying these smaller rewards for your study abroad trip will provide infinitely more benefits. In addition to simply cutting out expenses, see how much you can cut down basic expenses. For example, could you possibly shop for cheaper foods, discounted clothing and generic toiletry items? Saving a dollar here and a dollar there might not seem like much, but it can add up to a significant amount in the long run.

Even though you may be a little strapped for cash, your experience in one of the best educational and professional hubs in the world is truly priceless. Since you’ll be saving so much for your trip, be sure to take full advantage of your study abroad program. Sign up for internships, go sight-seeing on weekends and build friendships with the locals to become fully immersed in American culture.

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