Allaire’s Advice: Five Tips to Manage Your Money Abroad

Allaire, Denison University, is a Student Blogger for DIS during the fall semester of 2021. On her blog, she shares her experience and offers tips about being a student in Copenhagen.

One of our favorite posts by Allaire so far is about ways to manage your budget while you are abroad. Read it here.

It’s not a secret that Copenhagen is more expensive than the States. It can be really overwhelming and stressful figuring out how much money to spend on food, travel, shopping, etc. After a month of being in Copenhagen (and through trial and error), I feel like I finally figured out some solutions to managing and budgeting my money abroad. Here are my five main tips.

  1. Skip the Cafés

As tempting as it is to drop into one of the 15 cafés by campus for a hot vanilla latte before class, each coffee run adds up. A lot. A cup of coffee is usually around 5-7 USD, so if you get a coffee every day before classes (4-5 times a week), that adds up to around $35 a week. A month of coffee runs will add up to about $120. That is a plane ticket to Paris! And that’s just coffee, we haven’t even talked about pastries, lunches, or sit down dining. Bottom line is, figure out how much money you are willing to spend on purchasing meals or coffee per week and set a limit. I allow myself one coffee outing a week and save it for when I reeallyyyy need one. Most mornings I drink instant coffee I bought at the grocery store with my food stipend from DIS to save the extra bucks. For the days you treat yourself to a coffee from a café, make sure to figure out which ones offer DIS student discounts!

2. Create a Spreadsheet for Travel Expenses

If you love charts and spreadsheets like I do, this will be right up your alley. Everyone will tell you how cheap and easy traveling from country to country in Europe is, but I’ll be the first to tell you it really isn’t that cheap, and it is certainly not that easy. What seems like an amazing deal, a $60 round trip flight to Prague, quickly can turn into a $300 trip. Airlines will get you with added costs for baggage, transportation can be costly, and hostel prices will be surprisingly expensive for a crappy room in a decent location. In order to really decipher how much money you are willing to spend on a weekend trip, creating a spread sheet with the dates of when you plan on traveling along with the details of the costs that each trip will help you budget tremendously. Here is an example of what my document looks like:

3. Make your Food Stipend Card your Best Friend

I already touched on this in my coffee rant, but I can’t express how important this is. You will be given a $600 food stipend card already paid for in your tuition for 4 months, USE IT!! I live in a flat with one roommate, and we decided to save money by grocery shopping and cooking ourselves meals every day. In addition to buying ingredients to cook with, I have recently discovered the cold, pre-made lunch and breakfast options in grocery stores that you can purchase with your card. Instead of buying a $12 salad at a cafe or salad place, use the food stipend card that is already paid for to pick up a pre-made Caesar salad at your closest grocery store for lunch. This has been a game changer when it comes to eating lunch in between classes or on my way home.

4. Never Buy Something the First Time you See it

If you love shopping like me, this will take some practice. I have learned that impulsively buying clothes will result in more anxiety over the money you spent on that item rather than enjoying your new purchase. One thing that really helped me if taking pictures of items I want, then leaving the store without buying anything. I allow myself to sleep on it for at least a day and if I am still thinking about the item, I will decide whether I need it enough to go back to the store and purchase it. If I am too lazy to go back and find the item, odds are I don’t really need it. Your bank account will thank me later for this.

5. Use Third Party Flight Searching Websites when Booking Flights

Booking flight tickets can be extremely stressful, especially when traveling in groups. In order to find the cheapest flights, make sure to sue websites like https://www.skyscanner.net, or https://www.edreams.net before purchasing the first flight you see. These websites will scan every airline that has flights to the location you want on then exact date and time you picked. You are then able to pick the cheapest/most convenient flight compared to the other options. If you know for sure you want to go to a specific country, I also recommend comparing flight prices for different weeks and months and deciding when to go based on which dates have the cheapest flights. Ticket prices vary drastically week to week, so deciding to go to a country when the tickets are oddly cheap may be the best bang for your buck.

Want to learn more?

>> Meet Allaire on her blog

>> Learn all about DIS Copenhagen

>> How to Live on a Budget – Denmark

>> Adulting in Scandinavia: Tips for Grocery Shopping in Denmark

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