Ten ways to save money in Sweden

From cheap dates with movie stars to the latest free music service, Thanh Dinh has some great tips for biting back at the credit crunch.

Ten ways to save money in Sweden

It has probably not escaped your attention that the world is not doing so great financially. And it probably comes as no surprise that you also happen to be living in one of the world’s most expensive countries. There are many perks to living in Sweden but cheap living is certainly not one of them.

Of course, some of the naughty among us save money by eschewing travelling expenses through plankning, a Swedish word for the act of dodging your travel fare by jumping over the turnstiles in the underground, and other questionable exploits. But what about the rest of us law-abiding citizens? Here are 10 legitimate ways to keep more kronor safely in your pocket.

1. Good restaurants, good prices

Eating out in Sweden can be rather pricey, especially when you consider that a main course usually goes for more than 200 kronor.

The ingenious people at Eat Sweden have put together two books, one each for Stockholm and Gothenburg, which offer diners two-for-one main courses. Ideally for two people, each book offers 12 restaurants and costs 285 kronor, but it basically pays for itself the first time you use it. Using it at all 12 restaurants racks up a saving of a couple of thousand kronor. The books are available from DesignTorget and are valid until 31 December, 2009.

2. Half-priced dates with Daniel Craig

…or Angelina Jolie. The SF Rabattkort gives you the chance to see four films for half price and is valid Monday-Thursday for three months from the first visit. Perfect because you get to see the films without having your seat kicked by the snotty kids who tend to frequent cinemas at the weekend like they are social clubs. The card costs 60 kronor and can be purchased nationwide from SF Bio and Svenska Bio.

3. Free furniture

It’s hard to believe that you get anything for free these days but this is exactly what you will find at Based on the concept that one man’s junk is another man’s treasure, unwanted goods are listed on the online community and are eagerly snapped up by those willing to give them a loving home. Membership to the Freecycle community is absolutely free, but this group needs givers as well as takers so even if you don’t need a kitchen table, join and give away that mirror that has been collecting dust in your attic since 1998. If you can’t find what you are after on Freecycle then is a wonderful source of affordable goods, mostly secondhand but lots of brand new items as well.

4. The sweet sound of music

Peer-to-peer music sharing can be legally precarious but now there is a 100% lawful solution with Spotify, a downloadable program that gives you access to an extensive library of music without the bothersome buffering delay. Spotify is free with a friend’s invite so do ask around, you’ll be surprised the number of people who are already members.

5. Every little percentage point helps

Don’t feel shy about negotiating mortgage rates with your bank. Two-year fixed-rate mortgages currently costs roughly 4.6% and a 0.2% discount would represent a 30,000 kronor saving per year on a mortgage of 1,500,000 kronor. Factors that influence the discounts banks offer include the size of your mortgage, whether you have other accounts with the same bank and whether your salary is paid into one of their accounts. If you are loyal to a particular bank and have all your money in one place as most people do then highlight this in your negotiation, and if not then offer to move your accounts for a better rate.

6. It pays to be clued up on taxes

The world markets are all over the place and many people have made bad investments this year. It might be worth selling off your underperforming funds and shares and to offset your losses against the interest you have paid on your savings account. Also, don’t forget that 30% of the interest on your loan and mortgage is tax deductible. Taxes may be boring but not knowing about the benefits could mean losing out on thousands of kronor of savings a year.

7. On yer bike

Save money on a travel card and gym membership by getting on your bike. Sweden is a bike-friendly country with clearly-marked cycle lanes in the towns and cities so it is safe, good for your health and is also environmentally friendly. You can pick up affordable bikes at police auctions where you can find confiscated goods and unclaimed lost property going for as little as 50 kronor. The popular auction at Bålsta Auktionshall ( is one such example.

8. Food, glorious food

Supermarkets have different promotions every week and it is difficult to keep track of what is on offer where. is an amazingly useful site that compares the cost of a typical shopping trip at different supermarkets in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö. The price difference between the most and least expensive supermarkets is usually more than 50% for Stockholm and around 20-25 % for Göteborg and Malmö.

9. Be first to get the news

Ever wonder how some of your smug friends seem to always know about the best deals? Chances are that they receive all the news about special offers first, direct from the company. Yes, this is that pesky little box that asks you to tick if you want to receive promotional information from the company in question. Don’t be too hasty to ignore it. An email from Ryanair about the one kronor all-inclusive offer could save you hundreds, and shops, trains and planes all run promotions all year round. Don’t go out searching for the best deals, let them come to you.

10. Talk for less

Skype is a free online service that lets you make free calls from your computer to other Skype users anywhere in the world. You can also purchase Skype credit so that you can make cheap calls to landlines and mobiles. For example, if you are calling an Australian landline, this would cost 0.164 kronor per minute with Skype’s Pay As You Go compared to 2.99 kronor per minute with Tele2’s fixed line rate, which is 18 times more expensive.

If all else fails, you could always leave Sweden.

For members


Pensions in the EU: What you need to know if you’re moving country

Have you ever wondered what to do with your private pension plan when moving to another European country?

Pensions in the EU: What you need to know if you're moving country

This question will probably have caused some headaches. Fortunately a new private pension product meant to make things easier should soon become available under a new EU regulation that came into effect this week. 

The new pan-European personal pension product (PEPP) will allow savers to take their private pension with them if they move within the European Union.

EU rules so far allowed the aggregation of state pensions and the possibility to carry across borders occupational pensions, which are paid by employers. But the market of private pensions remained fragmented.

The new product is expected to benefit especially young people, who tend to move more frequently across borders, and the self-employed, who might not be covered by other pension schemes. 

According to a survey conducted in 16 countries by Insurance Europe, the organisation representing insurers in Brussels, 38 percent of Europeans do not save for retirement, with a proportion as high as 60 percent in Finland, 57 percent in Spain, 56 percent in France and 55 percent in Italy. 

The groups least likely to have a pension plan are women (42% versus 34% of men), unemployed people (67%), self-employed and part-time workers in the private sector (38%), divorced and singles (44% and 43% respectively), and 18-35 year olds (40%).

“As a complement to public pensions, PEPP caters for the needs of today’s younger generation and allows people to better plan and make provisions for the future,” EU Commissioner for Financial Services Mairead McGuinness said on March 22nd, when new EU rules came into effect. 

The scheme will also allow savers to sign up to a personal pension plan offered by a provider based in another EU country.

Who can sign up?

Under the EU regulation, anyone can sign up to a pan-European personal pension, regardless of their nationality or employment status. 

The scheme is open to people who are employed part-time or full-time, self-employed, in any form of “modern employment”, unemployed or in education. 

The condition is that they are resident in a country of the European Union, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein (the European Economic Area). The PEPP will not be available outside these countries, for instance in Switzerland. 

How does it work?

PEPP providers can offer a maximum of six investment options, including a basic one that is low-risk and safeguards the amount invested. The basic PEPP is the default option. Its fees are capped at 1 percent of the accumulated capital per year.

People who move to another EU country can continue to contribute to the same PEPP. Whenever a consumer changes the country of residence, the provider will open a new sub-account for that country. If the provider cannot offer such option, savers have the right to switch provider free of charge.  

As pension products are taxed differently in each state, the applicable taxation will be that of the country of residence and possible tax incentives will only apply to the relevant sub-account. 

Savers who move residence outside the EU cannot continue saving on their PEPP, but they can resume contributions if they return. They would also need to ask advice about the consequences of the move on the way their savings are taxed. 

Pensions can then be paid out in a different location from where the product was purchased. 

Where to start?

Pan-European personal pension products can be offered by authorised banks, insurance companies, pension funds and wealth management firms. 

They are regulated products that can be sold to consumers only after being approved by supervisory authorities. 

As the legislation came into effect this week, only now eligible providers can submit the application for the authorisation of their products. National authorities have then three months to make a decision. So it will still take some time before PEPPs become available on the market. 

When this will happen, the products and their features will be listed in the public register of the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA). 

For more information: 

This article is published in cooperation with Europe Street News, a news outlet about citizens’ rights in the EU and the UK.