Want to study abroad but finding it hard to manage your budget while in a Masters programme? Many out there feel your pain as they have faced the same dilemma, especially if your home currency does not match up to the currency of the host country of your Masters school. As you struggle to manage and often find yourself cutting your budget on essential items, understandably you may become frustrated. However, as dire as circumstances may seem, at least you are getting an education that will make you significantly wealthier in the future. For now, here are some useful tips that will help you manage your budget while studying for your Masters degree.
1. Become a Jack of All Trades
It is much better to finish all your chores yourself rather than opting for help when you are on a tight budget. Hence, become a jack of all trades and learn to survive in the wild, wild, world of Masters studies. Instead of eating out, learn how to cook. You will save a significant amount of money if you prepare your food yourself rather than ordering overpriced food from restaurants or living off takeaways. If you previously preferred to use dry cleaning services, do your laundry yourself and learn how to iron your clothes. If you prefer driving, you might have to switch to using the public transport, walking, or perhaps even cycling to destinations you can easily reach. Doing all of your tasks by yourself will help you manage your resources and will definitely come in handy again in practical life.
2. Explore Your Options
It may be easier to settle for the first offer made, but remember that the first offers are always expensive, while cheaper ones come with adequate research and effort. Find affordable accommodation and explore options of sharing a room or an apartment and also consider staying in the university dorm. Set out your monthly or annual budget for accommodation and explore all the options available within that budget. Make sure you also account for costs of utilities when calculating the total cost of a particular accommodation.
Explore options for cheaper groceries and avail any discounts you may receive for buying in bulk. Manage to save coupons, discount cards, and keep an eye on all other offers that may help you save money. Also explore options for transportation such as cheap bus fares and bear in mind that most retail outlets and transportation modes in Western countries offer discounts to Masters students. Make the most of it!
3. Pack Necessary Items from Home
It is difficult to carry all items from your home country, specifically if you are going for a longer Masters programme, during which you will need to purchase certain items. However, you can significantly manage your budget by purchasing essentials such as clothing, footwear, and some toiletries from your home country. This may specifically be the case if there is a major difference in currencies and clothing or other items are likely to be significantly more expensive in your country of study.
For example, you will need plenty of winter clothing in countries like the UK. It may be better to budget yourself by purchasing some of these items such as coats, scarves, and hats from your home country. However, for those items that you must purchase during the duration of your stay, it could be easy to find them on sale!
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4. Set Your Limits
An essential part of managing your budget is setting your limits. You will have many friends in your Masters programme coming from different backgrounds and with differing budgets, yet it is important for you to know what you can, and cannot, do. Manage to set a day of a week or possibly a month, depending upon your budget, when you can eat out or indulge yourself. Also, plan the number of trips or extracurricular activities you want to take with your Masters friends and budget in beforehand the amount you are willing to spend.
5. Get a Part-Time Job
Get a part-time job during your Masters studies. Do not overwork yourself, or disregard your studies, but put in a day or two at a local shop, or a catering and hospitality agency for example, to earn some extra cash. Look for part–time opportunities on campus as well; many universities offer jobs directly to their students throughout the duration of their studies. This will help you pay for miscellaneous expenses and also help you manage your budget better. If you can't find a part-time job or are not allowed to work during your Masters programme, you may want to opt for some freelance work. It will give you both flexibility and a source of additional income.
Working will help you deal with unforeseen expenses and might enable you to always have that little bit of extra cash for an emergency or unforeseen expense. It will also help refresh your mind on weekends and keep you productive and away from activities that may blow your entire weekend budget!
This article has been produced by Advent Group and featured in the 2015-2016 Access Masters Guide