Today, being the business school student that I am, I want to talk money. A story to set the scene: when I was initially looking to apply to Universities back home, London was always one I daydreamed about, but hearing students moaning the hardships of high costs of living put me off. Roll on a gap year of self discovery and the idea to move abroad to study, I apply to Stockholm without second thought. I arrive and realise soon enough that everything costs pretty much the same, if not more, than London. Moral of the story, if expenses freak you out, they’ll find a way back to you.
But, it doesn’t need to be this way. With what I’ve learnt from living with a serious bargain-hunter landlady to spending the whole month of February living off mashed lentils and peas to challenge how little I could spend whilst maintaining some quality of life, I have been there. And now, having broken the illusion that Stockholm is ridiculously expensive (which to be fair in some areas will always be), I present to you some solutions I’ve picked up so you can go do all the cool things you came here to do:
- Crucial first step: put on your invisible bargain-hunter hat and never take it off. This is the act of you getting into your new role as conscious shopper, so when those good deals are staring you in the face, you’ll notice them.
- Food: it’s tempting to want to cut back on food expenses, however no matter your budget, you will dine like the wholesome king/queen that you are. A routine my landlady passed on to me is checking the supermarket newspapers that advertise new offers every week. I initially thought this would be totally useless with deals only being on random packaged stuff like pancake mix. But, if you combine a quick Google on what foods are seasonal with a keen eye for those ‘PRISBOMB!’ memos you will be surprised e.g. often onions go down to 5kr/kg and clementines 10kr/kg. Also I’ve found prices for the same thing to be lower in stores a little further out than central.
- Free ‘trial’ products: this is where you pay a small fee just for postage and they send you out the product to ‘trial’ for free before proceeding to send you further shipments each month if you’re happy and want a regular supply. Basically, completely save on costs for stuff like razors, even supplements (!), through this method – downside being you could only do this once per item and you’d need to remember to send an email saying to cancel further subscription. Still fun to try: www.efi.se
- Discount online stores: these are good for doing a big order of household goods like plastic bin bags, cleaning stuff, body wash etc. They do sell really cheap packaged food (stuff that is surplus in stores) if you have a spare 50 you just want to blow out on a hundred packets of peanuts or something. Prices are crazy: www.megafynd.se / www.matsmart.se
- Mobile credit: just when you think you’re onto a good monthly deal, there’ll be another even cheaper one that comes along. If you’re a member of the SU, Studentkortet send out regular emails of deals. I began to notice some really competitive ones for students, i.e. 49 kr a month with Hallon (intro offer, 99 thereafter). I won’t lie you will need to put in some effort to switch providers but if you want to keep your expenditures seriously low this one is worth the time.
- Recycling centres: I’ve routinely sat at home in the evenings and watched my landlady bring back pretty much new bits of furniture like lamps, even a kitchen table in mint condition, that she’s found. People looking for a quick way to get rid of stuff they don’t want will just leave it out in the trollies. With most living areas having one of these centres, it’s worth adopting your inner eco-warrior and giving something a new lease of life; you’ll be surprised what gets left.
- Facebook: make sure to join student circle groups such as the ‘Lappis’ page where people are selling/advertising cool stuff. Having a stalk of events/what others have marked as ‘going to’ can also often flag up free events and free breakfasts (I’ve never been up early enough for these to know if they’re worthwhile but still – free food).
And finally, an obvious one but remember to use your student title to your advantage! You will only be one once, so before you buy anything always think if you could be getting a further discount even, for example, on saving shipping costs when ordering online. The pennies, after all, do add up.
So happy money saving – I’ll be here when you go to book your summer getaway to the Bahamas with all your new funds…