Published on September 30, 2014

5 ways to budget on your international internship

What should I expect to spend in country?

One of the questions we frequently get asked is ‘how much will I spend in country?’ So here’s a rough guide on what to expect and how to budget your spending money during your international internship! We all know it can be tempting to splurge on your first week abroad. You’ve just arrived in an exciting new country and can’t wait to start exploring all the tourist hotspots. Socializing becomes a must, and sampling the local cuisine definitely beats pasta at home so budgeting could not be further from your mind! However, it’s important to be smart with your money from the start as you don’t want to get half way through your internship and be so cash-strapped that you have to miss out on the social scene.

Here’s what we suggest per week of your internship:

Madrid:  €100-€200

London: £100-£200

Australia: $100-$200 (AUD)

Hong Kong: $1000-$2000 (HKD)

Colombia: $100-$200 (USD)

Of course, these numbers depend on the lifestyle of each individual. If you’re used to eating out all of the time you may want a bit more, however, we've found that this amount gives you enough to live sensibly but also enjoy your free time socializing. It’s also a good idea to bear in mind that some places will have a higher cost of living compared to others e.g. London is going to be higher than Colombia.

We know that many of you are students and always looking for a few quick and easy ways to save money, so here are our top 5 tips for budgeting:

1. Plan your meals – Instead of going out to eat lunch every day, sometimes make double the amount of dinner the previous night and bring some in the next day. Likewise with your daily Starbucks, although commonly seen as the only way to survive through an early Monday morning meeting, bringing in your own thermos flask or by drinking coffee supplied in your office, could save you around $30 a week!

2. Look for deals – When thinking of ideas for the weekend and after work, many bars and restaurants offer promotions like 2 for the price of 1 during happy hour. For those of you who love a bit of retail therapy, many shops offer student discounts so don’t leave your student card at home!

3. Don’t buy a gym membership – Gym memberships are notoriously pricey so why not find some other ways to keep fit during your internship? The local park can serve just as well as a treadmill and you could even bring your friends along to make it more fun.

4. Free events – Instead of going to the overpriced tourist traps, spend a few weekends discovering museums, art galleries, walking tours and street markets. Some cities even put on free concerts!

5. Use Wi-Fi instead of your phone - If you’ve ever been abroad and forgotten about the international charges, this is something to remember! Make sure to turn your data off and stick to the wifi features on your smartphone. Similarly, also get yourself a cheap pay-as-you-go phone to use in country.

6. Check your bank charges - Bank and card charges can add up quickly when you use credit and debit cards overseas. Currency and cash withdrawal charges are often expensive as well. Check with your bank and credit card company to see what their charges are before travelling, this way you can find out what bank is best to use for withdrawing money.

7. Live like a local - Dive in and live like a local to save money. You should get to know colleagues and neighbours who will know where to shop for the best deals. Also make sure you fully utilise public transport systems. Taxi fares add up and can become very expensive. Sometimes foreigners can be intimidated by the lack of English or by signs that are all in local languages. Don't be afraid to ask for directions!

The author
Abbie Hammond

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