As an international student, it’s important to manage your finances well and save money. I want to share some of the practical tips I’ve learned that can help you budget effectively and make the most of your student experience here in Groningen.
1. Learn how to budget
To start saving, you need to know where your money is going. Here are some methods to help you track your spending:
– Budgeting Apps: Download a budgeting app on your phone. These apps can make tracking expenses easy.
– Spreadsheet: If you’re familiar with tools like Excel or Google Sheets, create a personal budget spreadsheet to record your expenses. (Warning: Only cool people do this!)
– Budget Journal: If you’re old-school, maybe keep a budget journal to track your spending manually.
Different methods work better for different people. Either way, once you’ve found what works for you, you’ll have a clear overview of your cash flow. This means you’ll be able to make smarter choices when it comes to saving money. Hurray!
2. Set spending limits
After you know how much you spend every month, it’s time to set some spending limits. While it’s easy for fixed costs like rent and subscriptions, dynamic expenses like social activities and travel can be more challenging to deal with. Adjust your budget as you learn more about your monthly expenses. Each month you will notice new patterns in your spending. This will make it easier for you to make changes to your spending habits if needed.
3. Cook and save money
Food is important. We eat it every day. Here are some tips on how to save money on food:
– Cook at Home: Cooking your own meals can save you a lot of money and it can be fun if you have some friends over to help you. You don’t have to be a fancy cook or anything; even easy recipes can help you save money on your grocery bill.
– Cook in Batches: Consider cooking larger portions that can be saved as leftovers for future meals. Additionally, creating a meal plan can be a great way to save both time and money.
4. Be smart when grocery shopping
When shopping for groceries, choose your stores wisely. Large chains are often more expensive, so explore budget-friendly options such as Lidl, Aldi, or Jumbo. Additionally, consider the following tips:
– Compare Prices: Be wise and compare prices and plan your shopping route according to your needs to make the most of your shopping experience.
– Utilize Store Apps: Many stores have apps that offer weekly deals. Take advantage of these offers to save money. Sales and deals are your best friends.
– Visit the Open-Air Market: The Vismarkt market on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays offers affordable options for vegetables, fruits, fish, meat, and nuts, especially towards the end of the day when vendors offer discounts. The Vismarkt is open from 9 in the morning to 5 in the afternoon.
– Prevent Impulse Purchases: To stay on budget, make a shopping list before heading out and stick to it. Avoid impulsive purchases that can derail your financial goals. No, stroopwafels are not a necessity!
6. Utilize Student Discounts
Being a student has its perks. For example, as a member of ESN Groningen, you can access various discounts that can save you money on clubbing, dining, and more.
7. Get a Secondhand Bike
You’re in the Netherlands, you need a bike to get around. This way, you’ll save money on bus tickets. Just make sure you invest in a good lock or else you might have to get another bike.
8. Explore Thrift Stores
Thrift stores like Mamamini, FB Marketplace, and Marktplaats are treasure troves for secondhand clothes, furniture, decorations, and books. These budget-friendly options can help you furnish your living space and upgrade your wardrobe without breaking the bank.
By implementing these tips, you can navigate your international student experience while saving money. Budget wisely, make smart choices, and enjoy your time as a student in Groningen!
Written by A. Heric.