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How to Save for Your TEFL Certification Course Abroad

Shelby is a military wife who works from home in a variety of ways. She enjoys travel and outdoor activities as well as reading and fitness.

You're Studying Abroad

Congratulations! If you're reading this, you're probably at least considering moving abroad to get your TEFL certification. (If you're still deciding which one to get, check out my post on how to choose which certificate to get.)

So you've found a course, picked your destination, and have dates in mind for when you'd like to go. Now comes the hard part: paying for it. There are several factors you've got to consider if you're going to move abroad for your certification. It's certainly not impossible, but you should plan for it. In this post, I'll cover some of those factors you should take into account and give you some pointers on saving for your trip.


Be Honest with Yourself

First you'll want to consider a few things that will affect your budget and ability to save. Let's take a look at some of these. Remember, it's best to be honest with yourself about finances. Otherwise, you might stretch yourself too thin.

  • How much debt do you have right now? If you've got rent, a car loan, student loans, insurance, etc. can you afford to take a month off to do this? You'll need to remember that you're still paying those bills while you're away.
  • How long do you plan to be gone? Most certification courses will be a month long. If you're planning to get a job in that country right after, or move to a different country, you'll want to get rid of all your bills in the U.S. before you leave. But if you want to just spend your month in another country and come home, you can probably keep your bills.
  • How much are you saving right now? Does any of your paycheck go into a savings account, or are you already maxed out on bills? You'll want to consider either downsizing or getting a higher paying job so you can save.
  • Where are you going? Depending on location, airfare can get pretty expensive to your choice of country. Keep this in mind, but don't sacrifice the spot you've been wanting to go forever just because of price.
  • Are you willing to wait a few months? Is this something you really want to do that you can wait until you save up the money? Or will you get discouraged quickly and move on to another idea?

Putting Together a Plan

Before you click the "Book Now" button on your course, spend some time putting together a realistic budget for the month you'll spend in your country. In addition, think about how long it will take you to save that money.

For example, when I registered for my TEFL course, I knew the entire month would cost me about $2500. I knew I could save that in a few months because at the time I had a full time job and very few bills so I could throw hundreds of dollars each paycheck into a fund for it.

If I were to try that now, it would take me a much longer time because I have more bills and less disposable income.

Things to put in your budget:

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  • Airfare
  • Lodging (both traveling to and from the course and during the course)
  • Food
  • Attractions/excursions (what's the point of going if you don't do anything fun and see the country a bit?)
  • The course fee itself
  • A SIM card for your phone (or a plan that has international calling)

Depending on the country, you can keep these fees low, or they may cost you quite a bit. Do some research on airfare and cost of living in the area. See when peak travel season is for the country and try to go at a different time.

Many times, the course company will give you some suggestions or estimates of how much money you should save for the month. They may also give you suggestions for housing in the area (this could mean homestays with a host family or renting an apartment).

Ways to Save

Once you've got your budget in place, you'll want to start looking at your finances to see how long it will take you to save this money. There are some things that you can't really quit paying for, like a car note or rent. But other things, like eating out all the time or drinking, can be cut down to save more money.

Take a look at what you spend money on. See if there's any room to save money. Can you eat at home or pack your lunch? Would you be able to make coffee at home instead of stopping for a $4 cup?

If you've cut out as much as you can and still need more ways to save money, consider a side hustle of some kind. Depending on your work schedule and your talents, you may be able to make a little side money. You can look at sites like Fiverr for ideas of what you can do to make a little extra cash.

In addition to the money you'll need for your trip, consider the bills you'll still have at home that month. Can you get someone to rent your place for a month to cover the cost? Airbnb might be a good way to make money during the time you're gone. How will you pay for your car or other bills? You need to put those bills in your budget as well.

If you're up for it and it's possible to do it, you could consider a complete overhaul of your life. For example, if you're graduating college and don't have an apartment or many bills yet, don't get them. Do something else instead that will make you money and save on bills at the same time. Or if your lease is up, consider making a big change in how you live to save money.

You could find a roommate to split rent with. Or you could take a job that provides you with a place to live. For me, this meant working in Yellowstone National Park for six months. Room and board were considerably low, and I didn't have many other bills. This let me save about half of my paycheck each time. I saved $2500 in just a few months by working there.

I realize that everyone has different responsibilities in life and can't make major changes all the time. There is no one size fits all plan. Hopefully, though, you've seen the factors you need to take into consideration and have an idea of how to start saving money. Be original, be flexible, and keep your goal in mind.

You'll be there in no time.

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