China Underground > Chinese studies > 7 Practical Tips on How to Save Money as a Student Abroad

7 Practical Tips on How to Save Money as a Student Abroad

We know that it’s already expensive to pack up your life and move across the world for your education.

We want it to be easy for you to come to Kunming, China to study Mandarin, instead of worrying about your bank account balance.

[Download our Free Infographic Comparing Living Costs Between China and the U.S.]

Because of this, we’ve decided to share some practical tips on how to save money as a student who is studying in Kunming, China.



The first how to when it comes to traveling cheap, is creating a travel budget. In our first saving money article “How to Save Money While Studying in China”, we mention planning ahead. Creating a travel budget before you’re at the airport, ready to fly, will allow you to understand your money situation and stick to the budget.

To help, we’ve created a FREE cost comparison graph for you. It compares some everyday expenses. We break down things like what an average lunch costs in China, compared to the USA and the conversion rate of the bill.

[Download our Free Infographic Comparing Living Costs Between China and the U.S.]

This graph will help you get to know the cost of living in Kunming and how much money you should allocate to different things in your budget.

While it may take a bit to create your budget, it’s important to stick with it throughout your study abroad experience. If you stick to your budget, you’ll more than likely feel at ease when you’re away and you open up your bank account statement.



It’s good to keep track of how much your cash is worth in another country’s currency. A few percentage points may not seem like a big deal, but if you want to save money as a student, it’s a big deal. If you’re taking a large chunk of cash out from an ATM or making a big purchase, you can be talking about hundreds of dollars.

Yahoo posts the daily exchange rates for all currencies and a simple search will ensure you’re getting the most value out of your dollar.



In addition to paying attention to the rates, withdraw more money, less often. Now, we’re not saying to walk around Kunming with hundreds of dollars on you, but withdrawing more money less frequently will save you from those pesky ATM fees.

ATM’s are one of the best places to get money out abroad, but one of the biggest misconceptions is that there’s only one flat fee to withdraw money. But, in actuality, you can be charged multiple fees. Fees include a flat $2-5 transaction fee from your bank each time, a percentage fee for the currency conversion and possible a fee from the ATM you use abroad.

[Download our Free Guide on Obtaining a Visa to Study Abroad]

These fees add up to become a big chunk of your budget. So, pay attention to the fees and by withdrawing more money, less often, you’ll be saving some good money.



One of the biggest money grabbers is eating out. A meal, plus a drink and maybe even a sweet treat to finish it off, end up costing a lot of money. Luckily, at Keats School, our meals are included in tuition.

This means you’re saving money on breakfast, lunch and dinner every single day. But, on the weekends when you’re on your own, pick the cheaper restaurants. Pick the cheaper food options and stay away from spending a lot of money on drinks.

They go down fast and your bill goes up fast.



Adding an international phone plan to your existing plan could cost you an arm and a leg and forgoing that is one way to budget your money. Many international students recommend downgrading your phone plan to remove data and have it solely connect to wifi when available.

This could save you a lot of money on a monthly basis. Some even cancel their whole plan and stay in touch with friends and family via a computer.

[Download our Free Template on Asking for Time off Work]

If you’re not ready to cancel your plan, Keats School provides a sim card for all students once they arrive in Kunming. This will help you stay in touch with your friends and family while you’re out exploring China.



You’re not going to need your magazine subscription to Mechanical Engineering while you’re away. Cancel your subscription and save some money while you’re a Mandarin language student. You’re not going to need your gym membership while you’re abroad. Cancel your membership and save some money. Plus, Keats School has a gym for all students to access.

You could even go as far as canceling your Netflix, Spotify, Apple Music and your home internet. Some or all of these things are extra payments that you could minimize.



A very easy, practical way to save some money while living in China is to have a no spend day. It’s as simple as the title reads. Spend no money for one day a week. That one no-spend day will allow you to save a couple yuan.

If you choose the intensive one-on-one program, it is an all-inclusive program including accommodation and meals. Therefore, you can actually study Chinese in China with Keats while spending no money at all for one day. This can help you fully immerse yourself in the Chinese language studies.

Many products in China are very cheap with very good quality, so sometimes the students get fascinated with all the great things in China. Please make sure that the thing you buy is really in urgent need or the gift that you would like to give to your family or friends. If not, don’t spend on things that you don’t need.


Now that you know it’s possible to study abroad and save some money, it’s time to apply to Keats School. At Keats, we have eight different Mandarin language courses. Each course is customizable to you and your language needs.

To learn more about our courses, visit our courses page. To apply to Keats, start your online application today.

Post Author

Interview with Elle Lee, Style Blogger


Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by following us

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.