These articles were created by the students participating in the UMD Study in England Programme for the 2013-2014 school year. The program is over, but the experience will never fade. If you have any questions or want to get in touch, send an email to the UMD International Education Office!

Monday, 2 December 2013

Start Planning Now: Budgeting

In my belief, having a successful budget doesn’t mean that you are a super saver; it means you are capable of living comfortably with the funds that you have. The key to budgeting is having good spending habits. As a student living on their own in a separate country, I want you to realize that you are completely responsible for yourself. There will be nobody around to call you up and say “Hey! Don’t waste your money!” so my recommendation is, start learning to support your lifestyle on your own now. Your first steps to make sure you won’t be high and dry halfway through the semester should consist of a few things:
  1. Plan the places you want to visit. Everybody does the last minute trip to London, but trips that take you off of the island should be thought out before you leave. Look into travel options and find the cheapest way you can get there and then look into housing and accommodations. Don’t worry about food yet. Having a rough estimate of travel and accommodation costs for a few trips you want to take can help judge about how much money you’ll need for traveling.
  2. Start shopping at grocery stores for all your food. I cannot stress enough how much money you’ll save shopping for fresh groceries, as opposed to visiting the Cornish bakery for a sausage roll. Start to become familiar with the prices of foods you buy often in the States. When you shop at local stores you can compare food prices between England and the States so you know roughly how much you are spending.
  3. When you come over to England, there will be a conversion rate between the pound and dollar. Last year for every 1 dollar, it converted to .56 pounds. Keeping the conversion rate in mind will help you understand price comparisons. For example, a box of cereal in here in England might be 2.49. However after the conversion rate that’s roughly 3.75, a dollar and 25 cents more expensive.
    (the rough current dollar-to-pound exchange rate can be found on Google)
  4. The program recommends that you save between 3,000 and 6,000 dollars for living over here. If you plan on taking a couple large trips, then yes, I agree, that is an accurate estimate of what you’ll need. I would say a good middle ground is 3,500-4,000 because I know 6,000 is a lot of money to save. Also, whatever you spend money on over here and decide to take back with you, you will need to pay taxes on, so don’t fill your suitcase with things that you could find back in the states. Only bring back with you the things that are important moments of your journey abroad.
I handle my money on my own; it’s up to me to know how much I have in my accounts. I would recommend that you too learn how to handle your own bank account. This way you’ll understand how much of an impact buying an extra latte or sausage roll has on your funds. However, bear in mind that you will be over here for a year, and it is very important that you feel at home and relaxed. Don’t feel like you have to scrounge every pence you have to keep yourself alive. You are in England, which is a precious and wonderful opportunity, so enjoy it.


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