When my laptop was stolen during my overseas study I was all of a sudden faced with an unexpected expense of getting a replacement.
The incurred cost was high, but fortunately I had my savings for such an emergency. If I had not been managing my money well and keeping some savings it would have been very difficult!
Here are a few money tips that might help other international students…
Loans? No thanks!
It is easy to access cash nowadays. Credit cards, payment by instalments, personal loans… I always say no to any possible way which I will end up with ‘debts’ because it says in Proverbs 22:7, “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.” Undoubtedly, some of the loans are essential for us, but I am referring to those ‘debts’ which exist only to make life easier, such as credit cards. Unless you are very self-disciplined, credit cards are not the best way of spending because the convenience of accessing cash may cause you to overspend and the negligence of repaying may incite extra costs. At one time I had four credit cards, and once in a while I would miss out one bill which eventually cost me more. The situation improved only after I set up a direct debit. But my number 1 piece of advice is: don’t get one out of convenience. If you really need one, make sure you always pay in full to avoid being in the debt cycle.
Planning is the key.
In most situations, planning saves money. I like to plan ahead to have an overview of my monthly spending. For fixed costs such as accommodation and phone bills, I always set aside the money for them. For more flexible costs such as food and transportation, I usually draft a weekly meal plan and a shopping list for grocery shopping, and make travel plans to get good deals of train and flight tickets. If I know I am going to meet up with friends, I tend to compare restaurants to estimate my rough expenditure. In summary, planning is key to saving money.
Two accounts strategy.
I have a current and a saving account. The former is the monthly regular costs plus 40 to 50 percent of pocket money. The latter is a big lump sum which I will not touch unless the current account is empty. The two accounts strategy is the outcome of how I perceive spending. First, spending should be prioritised and emotional shopping should be avoided. Second, saving is important for emergencies.
Managing your finance well is a step forward to maturity. Learning to be responsible for the money, whether it is given, borrowed or earned, is also a way of taking good care of oneself.
I hope these tips will ease you from any unnecessary financial anxiety in the new academic year!