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Money Management Tips When Doing a Year Abroad

Your year travelling abroad will be thrilling, life changing, and unlike any other experience you’ve had before now. The main thing you really don’t want to have to worry about is money, especially running out of cash and getting stuck partway through, having to cut your trip short. With some simple money management techniques, you’ll be all set to head off on your adventures and concentrate on making the most of your experiences.

Before you go, plan to keep track of your spending by drawing up a thorough budget. Take into account your travel insurance, accommodation costs, food, flights, tours, any special equipment or hire, and new clothes, as well as socialising and nights out. Thinking about these things in advance prevents drama when you arrive at your first destination, and you can always adjust the amounts in each category when you’ve got your bearings and a better idea of how much things cost. Try this useful tool to help you.

Raise some cash first
There are countless ways to raise some money in the months before you head off. Sell your stuff on eBay and Facebook secondhand pages, or use your skills and interests to generate cash by teaching a musical instrument or tutoring local kids. Babysit or walk dogs. Take on a part-time job in a local shop or café. Seek an early adrenaline rush and try a sponsored bungee jump or abseil, or host a charity fundraising event if you plan on carrying out charity work while you’re out there. Anything you can do to generate funds in the run-up to your year abroad will ease money worries and set you up for the year. There’s loads more ideas in this guide; your imagination is the limit!

Currency cards
Once you’re away, you need to manage your cash. If you’re staying in any country for a week or more, it’s worth signing up for currency cards, which are secure, easy to use and offer a great exchange rate. You can pre-load these with cash at any time you have Wi-Fi access, and withdraw at ATMs once you’re abroad. For long-term, especially year-long trips to one place, you might set up a bank account and need to transfer money. Student Money Saver recommends TransferWise to do this, which slashes the hidden fees banks charge you for moving money between countries.

Call home for free
You’ll want to call home at least once in a while, to check in and catch up with people back home, but this can get expensive very fast. Make the most of WiFi when you find it and use it for phone calls. iOS users can chat to their loved ones over FaceTime (and FaceTime Audio, which is just like a phone call if you don’t fancy chat face-to-face), and the Viber app, which allows you to make calls over Wi-Fi over any device. Skype is traditional, tried and tested, great for long conversations with friends and family, and it’s also perfect for making multi-person video calls.

Ask the locals
Avoid local tourist traps whenever you can, especially when looking for somewhere to eat, as more often than not they’ll be overcrowded and really expensive. Reach out and make friends with the locals in the hopes they’ll let you in on where to find the best stores, cafés, restaurants and things to do, so you can avoid paying far more than you need to.

Share the cooking
Food can be a major expense when you’re travelling. If you’re staying somewhere with access to a kitchen, you can save money by cooking meals yourself, rather than eating out all the time. Share the cost of ingredients with friends, and take it in turns to cook up big batches of local cuisine. Once you get to know a few people, pot lucks are a fun way to socialise - cook one dish and add it to a wonderfully diverse banquet, which gives you the chance to try all kinds of different foods for very little money.