Saving Money as a University of Groningen Student
|Date:||24 July 2019|
Coffee at the UB Starbucks, lunch ‘salade’ from the Albert Heijn, dinner at the Pastafabriek, drinks at Pintelier… life in Groningen sure can be expensive, especially if you don’t keep an eye on your wallet. At some point, you can’t justify this type of spending to yourself (nor your parents) anymore. So, what’s the best way to cut back and save as a student in Groningen?
1. Track your monthly budget
In order to save, you’ll have to know some basics about your finances. What’s coming in per month and also what’s going out? Make a spreadsheet with an overview of what you spent money on, like: groceries, social outings, school supplies, clothes, transport. To add clarity, you can divide them into fixed (rent, Swapfiets, Netflix) and variable (food, clothes, personal supplies) expenses. This will give you a realistic overview of what you spend most on and will also give you an idea about what areas you can save in.
Pro-tip: Do your finances with a money-conscience friend, because seeing their judgy face when you report the 18th time you went out to lunch that month will really help you cut back.
2. Be smart with food shopping
For groceries, try the market (Vismarkt) on Tuesday, Friday or Saturday for cheap produce. Buying in bulk can help keep the cost down (especially if you have a fridge, although disclaimer: thi only works if you eat/use what you’ve bought in bulk before it goes off). Keeping track of discounts can also help you save money. The Dutch are great with their discounts. We don't spend money when we go to the store, we save money on that 50%-off deal. Albert Heijn has a bonus system (you’ll need to get a bonus card), and LIDL/Aldi are cheaper supermarket options generally. You can use the app TooGoodToGo to get food from shops and restaurants before they have to throw it out. And also: shopping once per week will lead to more frugal shopping than if you go every day.
And finally… you might want to start packing lunch, eating breakfast/dinner at home and bringing your own coffee to the UB. #smallsteps
3. Make sure to milk that student card
Your student card will get you a lot of discounts, from cheaper haircuts to discounts at museums; your student card is a goldmine when it comes to getting free/cheaper stuff. Check out exactly where you can get discount, anything from Pathe Cinema to Dominos and even Blokker (quite handy if your vacuum cleaner breaks). Being a student also means you can get an ACLO membership cheaply, so you don’t have to pay €60 per month for a gym you will never go to.
4. Be smart about student life
Do not pay full-price for course books! Just download them if possible, or buy them second-hand from previous students. Students from some nationalities can get a free travel card through DUO as well as student finance.
Speaking of travel, you can often buy discounted train tickets at Kruidvat or Etos. However, for shorter distances cycling is the cheapest way of getting around.
If you need furniture, you can check second-hand shops like Mamamini or use Marktplaats (which is the Dutch ebay). It’s also worth considering if you really need certain items, like an expensive dining room table when your friends always end up eating on your couch.
Need clothes? Many shops in the NL have seasonal sales. It works best if you plan ahead, so buy your winter jacket at the beginning of spring when prices are lowest.
5. Take cash on nights out
Nothing worse than waking up on a Sunday, not really being able to remember what you got up to the night before... And then slowly come to the realisation that you spend €80 on drinks for all your mates. Taking out cash rather than your card prevents you from overspending - and allows you to set a precise budget for what you think a night out is worth to you.
6. Check out those fixed costs
Internet, your mobile phone contract, water, gas and electricity… you can always shop around for different agencies and prices. It’s good to be aware of what the quality is that can be delivered to your place (for example, cable internet is generally much faster than ADSL), but you should also look for a good price. Even if you are happy with your provider, it’s smart to call them once per year to check if there are new deals (threatening to switch provider can sometimes help you get the best deals).
If your rent seems outrages, you can always ask Frently if you are paying the right amount for your room. If you are paying too much, 'Frently' can help you get a reduced rate. Check out their online rent check to see if this is the case for you.
What are your best money-saving tips? What works for you and what doesn’t? Let us know!