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Posted 02 November 2023

Savvy Student Savings

Being an international student and traveling to the United States for higher education can be a fun and exhilarating experience, but it can also come with many challenges — one of which may be financial. While some of this content is geared directly toward international students without much U.S. financial experience, much of the information can apply to all college students — so keep reading!  

Avoid the Public Gym 

Some perks of being a college student include being able to utilize the amenities on your university’s campus. While you may get some discounts at local gyms because of your student status, it may not be the most cost-effective option. Many colleges have on-campus fitness facilities that give free access to any student with valid identification. Even with a low-price gym membership of $24 per month, it will cost $288 per year, adding up to $1,152 over the course of four years. The savings are significant if you use facilities provided for free.  

Student Discounts 

While using a student discount at a public gym may not be as financially beneficial as using on-campus facilities for free, using student discounts has an important place in your financial plan. Many businesses in college towns and surrounding areas are happy to give student discounts as you invest in yourself and the local economy. Some businesses advertise these perks while others don’t, so be sure to ask whenever you are out. 

It may be helpful to check websites or call before visiting businesses to ask about discounts so you can build your plans around your budget. Once you’re familiar with participating business, keep a running list and be sure to share it with fellow international students. Some businesses that reliably offer student discounts are theaters, insurance companies and tech companies, so double check before you buy. 

Save on Textbooks 

Student discounts can bring a host of savings, but those savings may not be enough to pay for textbook purchases. Even though tremendous amounts of information can be found on the internet, textbooks are still required for many courses. This can be a significant expense that may be difficult to afford, so consider textbook rental sites and programs that can be found by searching online. With a bit of coordination, you could also make one textbook work for multiple people by splitting the purchase cost among friends and making copies of specific pages as needed. 

Campus Employment 

To exponentially increase your savings account, consider finding a part-time job that will allow you to not only afford purchases but build your savings for important expenses or financial emergencies. On-campus employment as an international student not only allows you to earn extra money but can also increase your campus familiarity while providing opportunities to make friends and connections. College campuses have numerous programs, facilities and students to manage, so working for your university will not only allow you to earn income, but will also benefit the institution you have chosen to invest your time, energy and money in. One significant advantage to on-campus employment, depending on the job, is it can aid you in learning U.S. monetary customs more quickly. Learning these customs is a valuable skill that you can then teach to other international students to have more of an impact within your community.  

It’s important to understand what work authorizations may be required by connecting with the school’s international or career center prior to accepting any employment opportunities on or off campus.   

Open an U.S. Account 

With the money-saving tips you’ve gotten here, why not make the most of your savings and open a U.S. account? Having a U.S. account gives you more accessibility to your money by being able to use direct deposit, withdrawal cash at institution ATMs, and save on potential fees when using your international cards to make purchases in the U.S. You can also pay and manage your bills and set up your student loan refunds to be automatically deposited. Additionally, having a U.S. account may provide you with the opportunity to obtain a secured credit card to help establish credit within the United States. Establishing credit is an important financial step should you choose to stay in the country after graduation. Established U.S. credit can help with securing necessary loans with better interest rates, lower car insurance rates, housing, and employment opportunities. 

As an international student, you have plenty of things to take into consideration; however, with a bit of planning, your finances can be less stressful. Learning and sharing simple tips such as these can help increase your U.S. financial savvy, saving you money, and making your international student experience a positive one!