You suddenly have a whole summer ahead of you, you can finally breathe! Finals are over and you have so much free time you don’t know what to do with yourself. Friends are visiting home and planning their vacations, but how do they all have the money to do these things? It’s not easy, however, with a few simple steps you can stretch the last of your yearly budget to take a break this summer. So, take a vacation on a budget and forget all the studying and exams until next semester.
There are several ways you can save money on your vacation. To travel on a budget think about doing some research on your destination, managing expectations and planning. Here are just a few ideas to get you started.
Take your time
Never go for the first flight you find, always check out comparison sights such as Kayak and SkyScanner to see which are the cheapest routes, if a layover will reduce the cost of the flight or if there are budget airlines offering the same flights.
You have a whole summer ahead of you, so instead of rushing in to planning a trip a few days in advance do your research, look at airline websites to see when they have special promotions or sales and try to book during these times. If you’re not sure where you want to go then check out the cheapest flight routes and promotions to get you started, you might discover something you never knew existed.
You can save a fortune simply by being flexible. Most people tend to set a specific date and fit their search criteria to fixed expectations. This limits the outcome and often increases the price of the flight. Most websites allow you to select the option of +/-2 days when searching for a flight. By adapting your schedule to the flight availability, you can often reduce the cost of your trip by booking less popular flights. Now that school’s over you don’t have to fly Friday night to Sunday, meaning that you’re holding the winning hand. You can take those cheaper weekday 1pm flights that most people don’t have the right schedule to take.
In a home
Let’s be realistic, you probably won’t be staying in a 5* hotel on your vacation if you want to eat, drink and explore while you’re away. Alternatives such as AirBnB are a lifesaver. AirBnB allows you to rent a room in a great location with the only compromise of sharing a bathroom or kitchen. If you rent with a friend you can even split the price of the room between 2, massively reducing the cost. The filters are excellent, making the search for your stay straightforward and easy to fit around your criteria. Additionally, you can check out previous reviews and the rating of the host to make sure you feel safe and secure during your stay.
Just because you can’t stay in a high-end hotel doesn’t mean you can’t find a good compromise. Check out Booking.com for some incredible promotions on anything from dorms in hostels to hotels with breakfast and a pool. Other great sites include Expedia and Trivago, which offer both hotel comparisons and package trips with great promotions. Take a look around, and once you find a place you like compare between each of these websites to see which has the best deal.
If you’re away with friends you’re likely to eat out a lot, which can be scary and make you think you always have to go for the soup or salad. There are 2 easy ways to avoid this, the first is by renting an apartment to share with your friends. By using AirBnB or local websites in your destination you can often find a place with a kitchen to cook in the apartment. I’m guessing you won’t want to stay in the whole time, but at least you can cook breakfast and keep snacks and drinks in the fridge.
If you don’t have this option then just do your research in advance. Get a guidebook or look online at Lonely Planet, Rough Guides, Trip Advisor or Time Out to avoid the tourist traps. Think about alternatives to restaurants such as markets, where you can often buy fresh ingredients and eat outside. Besides, what’s the point in a vacation if you can’t enjoy the outdoors?
Some costs you won’t be able to avoid. However, by doing some research in advance you can often save a lot. Find out the best museums and galleries for students – most countries have reductions on tickets for people under the age of 25. Look for outdoor activities such as parks, gardens and festivals. Also, when at the beach, find areas where you can take your own food and drinks. Avoid paying for deck chair rental by taking a towel or blanket to lay on and make the most of the outdoors.
Wherever you choose to go on your vacation this summer, make sure you explore the local culture and traditions, take in your surroundings (simply walking around a city all day can uncover some great surprises and help you stumble across hidden gems), and enjoy your break from college.
We all know being a college student means studying, trying out new activities, exploring local culture, partying, basically saying yes to everything offered, right? But how is it that everyone seems to have to money to say yes to everything? These simple 5 steps will help you to stretch your student loan further without having to turn down all the amazing opportunities surrounding you.
- Join Facebook groups – what you have to understand is that you’re not the only one. If you’re feeling the pressure to get involved but don’t have the money to spend then thousands of other students are feeling the same way!
A great way to meet like-minded people, learn about local and free events, and explore some alternative options to those being offered on campus, is to join a Facebook group. There is a wide array of groups from the Harry Potter appreciation society or the birdwatching club, to class and college based groups. Each of these groups will have students sharing ideas, events, and generally seeking to socialize in a student-based environment. The great thing about Facebook is that you can see public groups and events, you can follow stories, share ideas, put ‘interested’ in an event without having to pay or attend, just to scope out your options. Additionally, you can join private groups that are full of other students in the area, many with similar student budgets.
- Shop smart – if your main restriction to getting involved in student activities is your budget, then be smart in other areas of your student life, like shopping.
Grocery shopping is a great place to stretch your money without missing out. A few simple rules could save you a fortune over your time in college:
- Never go shopping when you’re hungry! This is a sure way to give into your cravings and head straight to the Oreo section. (This will also help if you’re trying to balance being a student with maintaining a healthy lifestyle!)
- Make a list and try to shop once a week – to avoid impulse buys and make sure you have a plan for food throughout the week. It will help you to avoid ordering last minute take-out.
- Don’t eat out! Ok, maybe now and again after a long day in classes when you just don’t want to cook, but try to avoid it by buying food that you can prepare quickly and easily for those times.
- Go generic – do you really need those Lays chips and Coca Cola? Maybe you do need the occasional treat, but for the most part why not try the generic alternatives and test the water?
- Finally, check out the reduced sections, learn the times that stock is reduced each day and make use of your freezer! You can get some incredible deals on meat, fish and other expensive items if you watch these zones.
- Avoid buying all the memberships before you decide what you really want.
In a world of sports and societies it might be tempting to join them all, with the best intention of attending every soccer practice, film society showing, hiking trip etc. However, once the semester kicks into gear and you’re attending classes, studying, socializing, working out or whatever your routine happens to be, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to keep up with all those societies. Sample as many options as possible for free over the first couple of weeks of semester to see what fits best. And remember, spending time outdoors is a great way to get some free exercise!
- Student discounts – one of the best perks of being a student, and something I promise you’ll sorely miss once it’s gone, is student discount.
Just by having your student ID card you’re ahead of the game and can access a wide number of student discounts from shopping to activities. Big companies are all jumping on the promotional bandwagon including, Amazon, Sam’s Club, Greyhound, STA Travel and Verizon. Student discounts are also a fantastic way to support your education with companies such as Apple and Microsoft offering discounts on laptops and other technology. For events and shopping simply search online for student discounts in your local area or check out UNiDAYS for national offers.
- Don’t overspend on educational items. Ultimately you’re at college to learn, however, having a brand-new version of every book on the syllabus for each class simply isn’t necessary.
Firstly, many students before you have made this mistake. That means there is a whole bunch of second-hand (barely touched) books waiting for you to snap them up for half the price. Also try Amazon if you can’t find what you’re looking for on campus. For some books, you might only need to read one chapter and will then cast it aside. Approach your professors, ask what books are vital to buy and what you can find online or photocopy in the library. Finally, think about alternative options such as Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program if you’re likely to need quick access to a number of resources.
If you think that college life might be for you, just take a look at the wide variety of student loans being offered to support your experience. And remember, college is not only about getting an education but about gaining life experience, so use these tips to go out and get involved!
November and December are usually the months when most people´s grace periods on their student loans are coming to an end. As you begin to organize your finances once more, it is important to determine the best way to pay back your loans and how to do it making on-time monthly payments. Most loan providers offer the following options to make payments: automatic debit, pay online, pay by phone, and pay by check or money order.
It is important to remember that the loan is under your name and is now part of your financial history. This mean that your loan payments should be taken into consideration when creating a budget for your new monthly expenses, and should be just as important as your rent and grocery expenses. Most lenders have some sort of late fee policy in place and late payments will only reflect negatively on your credit score and increase the amount of your debt with the loan provider. Read the rest of this entry »
Once your university application process is over, a huge weight is lifted because you finally know what school you are going to attend. However, you then remember that there is another waiting game, which is waiting to find out how much money you will receive in financial aid, scholarships, etc. Many people do not even consider taking out a loan, because they feel that the combination of their savings and possible financial aid should be enough. For some this may be true, but for many financial aid never seems to be quite as much as they were expecting. Keep in mind that if you don’t use up everything you take out with an international student loan you can start paying it back right away; this way, you will feel debt free a lot sooner. If you are not sure whether or not to apply for an international student loan, below are 5 reasons why you should reconsider!
Many universities require first-year international students to live in on-campus housing. Although on-campus housing may prove to be convenient, it can sometimes be a bit more expensive than renting a room or apartment from a private landlord. If you are struggling to receive any financial aid, taking out an international student loan can help you make sure that you have your most basic needs covered and the money you have saved up can be used for leisure activities, which you will want to take advantage of especially if you’re in a new city.
- Books/Lab Costs
Similarly, the cost of books and tuition may actually surprise you once the semester starts. Each university normally gives an estimated amount of how much a student will be spending on books and materials; however, the real amount varies greatly on your major. Depending on what classes are required for your major, you may have extra materials and fees if you are required to register for courses with a lab section.
- Unexpected Costs
Moving away from home for college is a big step for everyone, but when this move also includes moving to a different country it can be a lot more intimidating. When moving away, the best way to manage your money is by creating a budget system; however, there will always be some surprises along the way. It is always a good idea to have some money set aside for unexpected costs, which can include problems with housing, a cell phone bill, or other housing bills you may not have considered. Although you may have enough money saved, it is nice to have some extra so that if something unexpected occurs you will be stress free.
- Flights Home
One expense that is easy to forget about is the cost of flying back home. If you don’t include possible flights home into your budget, when the holidays come around you may find yourself scraping together pennies to be able to buy a flight home. In addition, being able to buy flights in advance is always better, because prices will always go up during the holiday seasons.
- Emergency Money
Although we have already mentioned putting money aside for unexpected costs, there are certain types of situations that really cannot be predicted. It is highly probable that you will be required to pay for and receive health coverage by your university, and although an initial consultation will be covered anything beyond that you may have to pay out of pocket. Rather than be surprised by the possible cost of medical services it is a good idea to have money set aside specifically for that.
Ready to start looking for a student loan? Check out our international student loan comparison tool which will make the search much easier!
If you are currently planning to be a college student in the U.S. or if you already attend a U.S. college, you have probably thought about one of the most important expenses that all students face — food.
Feeding yourself in college can be a challenge, especially if you’re new to living independently. You have to plan when you’re going to eat and where your meal is going to come from. You also need to determine how you intend to pay for it — all while still trying to remain healthy so you can keep up with a demanding schedule and course load.
So how can you not only effectively plan to eat, but also pay for it? Here are some tips:
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For most American students taking out a loan to pay for college is a given, but many students do not consider the possibility of using the money to help them study abroad to enrich their college experience. If a study abroad program has not been on your radar, it may be time to reconsider. In today’s globalized world, studying abroad is becoming an important investment.
What many students are unaware of is that many study abroad programs are sponsored by their university. What this means is that if you choose to study abroad for a semester or for the entire year, that time abroad is considered part of your ¨normal¨ college tuition. This is great because you will be able to use all of your financial aid during your time abroad. What normally happens, however, is that study abroad expenses add up quickly with the cost of tuition, books, transportation, travel fees, and living expenses. Due to this, all of your financial aid may not be enough, especially taking into consideration that you probably will not be working or have a stable income while you are abroad. If your financial aid is not enough then a study abroad loan can help. Below are 3 reasons why you should take out a study abroad loan and travel overseas! Read the rest of this entry »
Compared to the rest of the world, the U.S. has a pretty big emphasis on car culture. The country has always been car-obsessed, and recently a study showed that the U.S. has a record four cars for every five of its citizens.
Unless you’re in a city like New York or Washington D.C., the infrastructure for public transportation is lacking — if it even exists at all. However, attending college in the U.S. without a car is still doable without public transport. Here are some ways to manage it.
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Tax season has already begun and many international students are not aware that they must file a US tax return as well – even if they’ve never earned any money in the US. All students must file their US taxes on or before April 18, 2016. For most international students, this process will be easy and straightforward. Read on to see what you need to submit, as well as helpful resources in case you need assistance
Does Everyone Need to File?
As part of your visa requirements all international students are required to file taxes. The forms you will need to submit are dependent on whether you have made any income or not.
Regardless of whether you’ve earned income or not, all international students and their dependents must file Form 8843. If you are in the US with dependents, this form must be filed by your dependents independently (which includes a separate envelope!).
What is Eligible for Taxation?
If, as an international student, you have been receiving an income in the US, then you will need to pay taxes on it. Below are 3 common sources of income for international students:
- Wages from a job in the United States (on-campus, off-campus, OPT job)
- A scholarship from an American organization
- Interest made from an American bank account
For a complete list of what could be considered a potential income source be sure to check the IRS website. If you have received income in the last calendar year, you will also need to file Form 1040NR-EZ.
For more in-depth information regarding how to file your taxes and what forms you’ll need to submit, be sure to read the Student Tax Return page from InternationalStudent.com.
“There’s no place like home” is a popular saying in the U.S.
Studying in the U.S. is a great opportunity, but heading home to visit friends and family is especially exciting. No matter how much you’re enjoying your time in the U.S., it’s normal to feel some homesickness.
Before you go back to your home country, there are a few things to keep in mind before getting on the flight. These are easy to overlook, as you’ll likely have lots of other things on your mind as you prepare for the trip. These four tips will help make your trip a whole lot easier. Read the rest of this entry »
The 2016 tax season officially opened on January 19. No one looks forward to doing their taxes, but with the new American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) it might be worth taking some time to file. This tax credit was first available in 2009; and, in 2012 was extended to continue until 2017. So you may still be eligible! What does eligibility mean exactly? It means that you may be able to receive a partially refundable tax credit of up to $2,500 on your educational costs.
What is the American Opportunity Tax Credit?
The AOTC is a tax credit that was started by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. In essence, it is a way to lift the burden of educational costs on families and individuals. There are two different tax credits which are available, the American opportunity credit and the lifetime learning credit. Now what’s the difference?
- American Opportunity Credit: This credit allows for a 40% refund and you are only eligible if you are in the first 4 years of post-secondary education.
- Lifetime Learning Credit: If you claim this credit you are not eligible to receive a refund of any kind, however it helps in limiting the amount of tax you will be asked to pay on your taxable income. In addition, this credit is not limited to the first 4 years, but can be claimed for any type of post-secondary education and/or courses taken to improve job skills.
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