Grad school is quickly approaching. Every time I look up, I feel like time has flown by. As this time passes, I knew I had to focus on getting my budget together ASAP. Planning my graduate school budget is something I am familiar with. My college budget was pretty tight, yet I was able to have fun. With moving internationally, I have to focus more to properly account for everything that I’ll be spending in the lead up to and after I move. Today, I’m walking through the key pieces of my budget and 27 essentials to put on your graduate school budget spreadsheet!
Figuring Out The Essentials:
There are certain basics going into this budget. Rent and utilities are actually set costs, which is nice for forward planning. I can plan far enough in advance and for some bills, I can even pay the entire year upfront. A phone plan is also thankfully a set cost. Groceries and transportation aren’t set. I know approximately how much I spend on each grocery trip and on food weekly. So, I can budget accordingly. I know how far the trip is on the tube from my place to the university, so that is simple to project. I do also know exactly how much I pay for certain subscriptions, ex. Apple storage, Netflix, etc. I whittled down my debt before I left, so luckily, my credit cards won’t be getting much use over the next year outside of emergencies or beneficial things like travel.
The Exchange Rate:
The US-UK exchange rate has stayed steady at about £1.40 to $1 for the last year or so. This is about .10 higher than last year, which means I need to be conscious about how much the exchange rate is when I spend or send money to myself. The US Dollar isn’t as strong as the British Pound, so I have to really watch that as I work with my money. I found that Wise has the best exchange rate, so I normally send money through their service.
Getting Honest About My Spending Before I Leave
As someone used to having a job, I’m used to having a bit of a bigger budget. I realized I spend way too much on certain things that I can make at home. I can absolutely buy a coffee machine rather than spending a bunch on Starbucks each month. It’s really easy to just swipe and add $25 to my card when I get low, but I can’t really do that anymore.
Making my graduate school budget is the perfect time to cut back and become better about my spending habits. That way after I finish my program, I don’t maintain those habits. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll absolutely plan to eat out or work from a coffee shop each time, but just not daily. I’m a girl who likes luxury from time to time, so I have to know that that’s not in the cards for at least a year.
Tuition and Books are Expensive
Don’t get me wrong. 1 year of my program is nowhere as expensive as even one semester in the States. Regardless, it is upwards of £25,000 a year, so I have to properly budget o pay that and ensure I have money left over. While the university’s library is massive, I will need to buy specific books for research on my dissertation, access to journals we don’t have, and more. Those are all big costs, but necessary ones, so they go in the budget too.
When I say travel, I don’t mean basic transportation. I mean going to see my boyfriend every so often because long distance isn’t fun. Traveling home is also something to budget for because if you haven’t noticed, those flights are EXPENSIVE at the moment. Traveling is easier in Europe/Africa/Asia than intercontinental flights, so I plan on taking advantage of that.
Separate Accounts for Essentials vs. Spending Money
One of the things I learned in college is that I need to split up my accounts. I just drop my rent and utilities into separate accounts that I do not touch under any circumstances. This helps me keep track of my budget and ensures that the money that is supposed to be there is there. I set those on autopay in order to have peace of mind. Trust me, it comes in handy!
Adding in FUN!
One of the final things that I had to include in my budget is FUN! There’s no point in a budget without allowances to enjoy the world around you. Go get that coffee. Head to the store and buy a new plant. Enjoying life doesn’t have to be crazy expensive, but it’s important not to make my budget crazy restrictive because I can’t handle that.
Thanks for sticking with me this far! I hope you enjoyed it and if you did, I’m adding a free PDF of my top 27 things I have in my grad school budget that you should as well!! Just sign up below, and it’ll come right to your email. Let me know if this helps you in planning your grad school budget and good luck!