Strategies for Saving up to Study Abroad (Part 2)

Looking for income ideas? Read the first part here.

Savings Strategy

All the money in the world helps no one without a plan! If you have little to no expenses, you can put your income straight to savings and probably build up your study abroad fund faster than the rest of us. Everyone else, keep reading!

Step 1: Evaluate

Evaluate your current financial situation. It might be tiring and a little depressing, but it’s essential to know what you’re working with!

You can start in many places, but I would recommend checking out one of my favorite home/finance YouTubers first. Jia gives excellent advice for managing finances, creating a budget, getting out of debt, and so much more! My mom and I happened upon her channel last year during our family vacation and we’ve been subscribed ever since.

Though I don’t have any debt, I was inspired to try using her Excel template to create a budget of my own, which helped me to see how soon 2018 will be here and how much I need to be making per month in order to meet my goals. It also revealed a snag in my plans: I have a variable income.

Because I don’t go to a “regular job” and receive a paycheck for the same amount every month, it’s difficult to budget anything. I honestly don’t know how much I’ll get paid in a week…or if I’ll even get paid at all. So how can I possibly run my business and build additional savings while trying to save to study in Japan?

Step 2: Change Your Mindset

Your mindset has a whole lot to do with where you’re headed. It’s not always easy to change it, but let’s try!

  1. Have an abundance mentality.
  2. Keep track of income daily.
  3. Stay diligent. Remain active.
  4. Be thankful.
1. Have an abundance mentality

I grew up always being told that we didn’t have the money for things. Something was either too expensive or we couldn’t afford it because we had to pay for something else. I was taught to be frugal and keep everything, because “you never know when you might need it” and so on. Don’t get me wrong; it’s great to be frugal. The problem is that even now, my parents live paycheck to paycheck. The mentality of not having enough feeds itself. And frankly, it goes against what we, as Christians, know—to have faith that God will provide AND to be good stewards of what he gives us.

The truth is that there are billions of people on the Earth. Billions who need services and want entertainment. People need me, and they need you! We have to cultivate a mentality that sees the world full of opportunity, with everyone drawing from, as Lisa from Marketing Creativity says figuratively, “the bounty of the ocean”.

2. Keep Track of Income Daily

Doing this shows how much you are actually making each day. Couple this with tracking your spending, and you not only get to see how much you bring in every day–but where it goes out as well.

3. Stay Diligent

Trust God will provide, and then do the work. It’s unreasonable to expect something for nothing. It’s far too easy in today’s world to get distracted by everything from Youtube to productivity articles. We need to be relentless in cutting out or diminishing distractions so that we can get stuff done!

It takes diligence to do this. In other words, stick with it! When you are saving up to study abroad, you have to stick to your plan. If you run into difficulty at any point, reevaluate. Sacrifice. But don’t abandon the plan. Keep working toward your goal.

4. Be Thankful

I think it’s important to stop, rest, and be thankful for God’s provision. Sometimes I get discouraged when I’m in a slower month and it feels like no one knows my Patreon/store/whatever exists. In those times I have to stop and remember the better months, and keep learning from my mistakes. I have to thank God for providing for me in the present, even if it doesn’t feel like I’m getting anywhere. And that gratitude helps me to keep going.

Step 3: Set Up Sinking Funds

Sinking funds are a great idea for everyone! It’s like having lots of piggy banks; set aside an amount each month for each one, and when you need to pay for something, pull it from that sinking fund. I keep all of mine in one savings account, but you can have separate accounts for each one, if you prefer.

Sinking funds help keep you from spending your “extra” money, so that when the time comes for you to book plane tickets and pay for your study abroad, you’ll have the funds ready and waiting!

I have sinking funds for:


What I put in here is for everything travel-related, such as transportation and accommodation.

Medical & Health

At the moment, this covers cost of supplements and any other medical expenses or insurance. (Hopefully Obamacare will be repealed, so I can just use my own medical fund instead of insurance and not have to pay a tax for being uninsured. That would be so much simpler for everyone involved.)

Japanese Study

This sinking fund covers course costs, textbooks, subscriptions…anything that has to do with learning Japanese.

And more…

  • Emergency
  • Gifts – birthday, Christmas, omiyage (souvenirs)
  • Donation – There are many issues on my heart; causes I want to donate to help. When God leads me to give to a certain organization or charity, I have this to pull from.
  • Taxes oAo
  • Personal Spending

Step 4: Budget!

Personally, I use the zero-based budget as introduced to me by Jia, and budget my sinking funds using percentages. But there are lots of ways to budget. You just have to find the one that works best for you.

But I Have a Variable Income!

You too? No worries, my friend–the good news is that we can do this too!

When your income fluctuates from month to month, my tip is to budget based on your average monthly income. To get this figure, add up your last 12 months of income and divide by 12. Having an average will give you a more realistic idea of where your money is going and what actions you will be able to take going forward.

When you have a month where you make more than you estimated, don’t spend it right away! You can put it towards your study abroad, and any other sinking funds you might have. This may mean putting it in your savings account, or just leaving the extra in your checking account and not touching it.

You will need to revisit your budget at least every month to see where you stand. If everything goes well, you should be well on your way to your goal! If not, don’t worry. Have faith. If it’s supposed to happen, then it will! Push forward and don’t give up. ^^

What are your tips to save up for studying abroad? Any secrets you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments below!

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