Managing Your Money

Even though you are living with a host family, there are still many expenses you will be responsible for paying during your time in the U.S. One of the best ways to avoid spending more money than you want is to create a budget. To make a budget, decide how much money you feel comfortable spending on a weekly or monthly basis. Then make sure your expenses – school lunches, fun with friends, etc. – never exceed this amount.

For more tips on managing your money, make a selection below.

Tips For Managing Your Money

  • If you do not know how to make a budget, ask your host parents or Local Coordinator for help.
  • Write down everything you spend money on! Use a notebook or download an app for your phone.
  • Open a bank account in the U.S. Be sure to sign up for electronic banking, which will make it easier to track your expenses.
  • Keep your change! Coins add up over time. Take them to a bank to exchange them for bills.
  • At school, you will likely get a student ID card. You can often use this to get discounts at places like museums, movie theaters, and even restaurants.

Typical Expenses
The list below includes typical expenses you may be responsible for during your time in the U.S.:

  • Food: The meals you eat at home with your host family are included in your program fee. However, when you want to purchase lunch at school (rather than bring food from home) or when you are out with your friends, any food you purchase will be your responsibility.
  • Activities and entertainment: Many activities, especially outdoor activities, may be free. Think hiking, going to the beach, hanging out in the park, etc. But many other activities, such as bowling, ice skating, going to the movies, going out to dinner, etc., will cost money. If you are participating in these activities with your host family, be sure to discuss beforehand who will pay your share. Discussing this up front will help you avoid any financial misunderstandings. When participating in these activities with your friends, you will be responsible for your share of the cost.
  • Mobile phones: If you plan on using a mobile phone during your time in the U.S., you will be responsible for all associated costs. (If you need help setting up a mobile phone line, ask your host parents or Local Coordinator.)
  • School expenses: Expenses related to school will vary by student, but you can expect to pay for the following: school supplies (such as notebooks), school lunches (if you don’t pack a lunch each day), field trip fees, sport team fees, prom or other formal dance tickets, etc. Check with your school for more information.
  • Transportation: In many circumstances, you will rely on your host family (or a school bus) for transportation. These are available at no cost to you. However, depending on where you live in the U.S., you may also have the opportunity to use public transportation or ridesharing/taxi cab apps like Uber and Lyft. Any costs associated with these alternative forms of transportation are your responsibility.
  • Gifts and souvenirs: You are responsible for the cost of all gifts you purchase for friends and family back home (or souvenirs purchased to help you remember your experience).

Do’s And Don’ts

Open a bank account in the US. (and enroll in online banking so you can track your spending).Spend all your money at the beginning of the program.
Keep track of the money you spend with a notebook or by using a budget or bank app on your phone.Borrow money from your LC, host family, or friends.
Talk to your host family about expenses you will be responsible for. This is especially true if you are taking a trip with your host family.Lend money to your LC, host family, or friends.
 Wait unit you have run out of money to ask for more (sending money can take up to two weeks).