Budgeting for Grad School

When budgeting for studying abroad, it can be a task, because it’s really impossible to know how much you’ll be spending until you arrive. Thankfully I had an idea of what I’ll want to be spending my money on, after being over there already a few years ago. But this time will be a bit different because my program lasts a year, and I’m not 100% sure what I’ll be doing come next May and June. My program is strange in the way that I have no classes during May through September, which means I can work on my MA dissertation from anywhere. If I want to stay in London, I can. If I want to go live in Paris for the summer, I totally could. If I want to even move back to America and finish it from afar, that’s an option too. I don’t have to decide right now, but I want to take that into consideration when budgeting.

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As you can see from my messy Excel spreadsheet above, I have tentatively tried to figure out some different options I can go for when it comes to what I will do after 9 months or a year. But if I ignore all that and get down to the bare basics, I’ve split up my money into months, weeks and even days. It’s the best way to kind of track where your money will go for the things you need the most. Some of the bigger things like tuition (which thankfully is all paid for thanks to a scholarship) or housing I keep separate, since those are big payments that will come out in a larger amount during different periods. The monthly, weekly and daily expenses are what I want to focus on in a smaller sense.

Food, Clothing, Phone, Transportation, Medicine, Travel and Etc., are the major categories I wanted to put down to track where the money will go. Food is super important. You need it to survive. I budgeted fairly low for this (knowing how expensive London is) mostly because I know I will be making a lot of my own food in my dorm kitchen. I want to eat healthier and really only spend my food money on coffee and occasional dinners out with friends. I am a shopaholic, so I had to put a clothing budget down, because I will be frequenting Primark a lot and I’m sure at some point I’ll get sick of it, but it will happen. I will obviously need a communication device in London, but will need the data more than the minutes and texting, so I wanted to keep it under $50 a month.

Transport with the Oyster Card will put me back a bit a month, but it’s cheaper than owning a car, and the student discount on it is very nice. I know I’ll be walking a lot, but I love the Tube! I heard most healthcare is free in the UK, so I won’t be worried too much about paying for medications, but I budgeting it in, just in case. And travel is a very large part of the budget for me because I know I’ll be spending most of my weekends on the road. The etc. category is really just for cases when I need extra stuff or go over on other aspects of the budget. I’m going to try my hardest to make sure I live within my means, but I want some room for the random things that might happen while I’m exploring Europe.

If anyone needs any help or advice with their budget, let me know! And I’d love to hear any tips others might have on how they prioritize their budgets and money matters! Happy saving my fellow wanderlusters!


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