By Robert Abel
This spring I spent my first semester abroad. I went to Buenos Aires, Argentina. I had planned to use the money from financial aid to support myself while I was abroad. It would have been roughly over $4,000, which would have been a little over $1000 a month to live on. The only problem was the extra money was through parent plus, or a loan that your parents co-sign on for an added amount. To tell a long story short, that money never came because my parents weren’t approved for the loan. Oh boy. The whole time my parents told me that they would take care of the situation, even though the money wasn’t approved.
Instead of living off of $1000 a month, I ended up living off of less than $400 in the form of $100 deposits every week. I say less than because I lost about $10 every time I went to an ATM in bank fees and exchange rates. Housing was provided and the public transit was pretty good. This was the first time I had to really learn to budget. My main expenses in order of importance were food, transportation and my cell phone. The breakdown of my finances from the moment I withdrew money from the ATM to when the money left my pocket is as followed:
My dad would deposit $100 to my account. I would withdraw about $90 of this or 400 pesos. I would spend about 150 pesos on food, 50 pesos on my bus card 50 pesos on my cell phone card and 150 pesos for general expenses. I always tried to save at least 100 pesos to go out on the weekends. When I shopped I had to make sure I got raw food, for example I got boneless uncooked chicken breast, rice and frozen vegetables as opposed to precooked foods.
I managed to survive and learn to cook on a small budget while I was over seas. I even was able to budget in a few side trips for spring break to Mar de Plata, Monte video and La Cumbracita.
Robert Abel is a senior at the University of Missouri
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