SHARE
COPY LINK

MONEY

How to survive in Sweden on a student budget

They say that January in Sweden is the "poorest" month of the year, when everybody is pressed for cash. So how do you get by on a student budget in the best of times and the worst of times?

How to survive in Sweden on a student budget

Maybe you went overboard with Christmas presents. Perhaps you visited home for the holidays. Maybe New Year's Eve was simply too much fun.

For whatever the reason, all reports say that January is a tough month when it comes to cash in Sweden.  So what to do?

Adjusting to life in a new town, meeting new friends and finding your way around both an unknown campus and a confusing curriculum can be bewildering enough, without also having to face the strained economy that student life offers. 

Here's your survival guide to having fun on a tight budget.

Coffee:

Giving up that twice-daily frappa-latte-cino can be a hard blow for any student, but the price tag on lattes from fancy cafés will eat away your student funds quicker than you can say “extra shot of hazelnut, please".

The best solution to this is bringing a thermos flask to class, but as you aren’t likely to remember to do this, there’s luckily another cup of joe that won’t force you to dip into your savings: student cafés exist within twenty metres of most lecture halls in the country, selling coffee for ten kronor or less.

If you don’t happen to be nearby one of these, Pressbyrån and7-Eleven are also happy to provide some of the most economical offerings in town, and usually have cards so that loyal customers can get a coffee free after purchasing several.

Sure, their watery brew may not be the same taste sensation you'll find at high-class city cafés, but it’ll do the trick to keep the caffeine levels in your blood constant, and keep you purring alertly throughout all your most boring lectures.

Partying:

After a rough week spent ploughing through books in the library, you could be excused for wanting to let off some steam and go out for a drink and perhaps a bit of a dance.

Unfortunately, Sweden’s high alcohol prices and expensive cover charges at trendy night clubs may make this a difficult venture.

The obvious solution is to stick to student pubs, of which universities usually have plenty to offer. There’s more than one for every night of the week, selling thirsty students beer at less than half the price of other spots in town.

Besides, visiting your nearest student watering hole is a great way to meet new like-minded friends and fellow students.

Food:

Food is a major cost that is difficult to avoid altogether, but it can be whittled down.

Tried-and-true tips for students with limited resources, energy and kitchen space include classics such as living on a diet of ramen noodles and macaroni, as well as the more inventive suggestion of frying your fish sticks in the toaster.

But if your culinary expectations aim a wee bit higher, don’t despair! There may be cost cuts to be had all the same.

If your kitchen space allows, get your biggest pot out of the cupboard, buy an armload of Tupperware containers, and get to work making lunch boxes to bring to class for the next term or so. Not eating out for lunch will save tons of money.

As for a dinner option that’s both unbeatably cheap and sociable at the same time, try mooching off the aforementioned student pubs, which often offer a free meal some night of the week, if you show up early enough.

For instance, classic Stockholm University hangout Gula Villan provides hungry and weary students with a steaming bowl of veggie soup every Wednesday. Find out what's going on at your school too!

Transport:

A bicycle is a student's best friend – it's true. And you can always sell it when you move again, so it can definitely be worthwhile.

Find a cheap used bike on eBay style website blocket.se, or go to the police’s auctions, where lost bicycles are sold for next to nothing.

If you aren’t staying in the country for long, buying a bike may seem like an unnecessary investment. Another option for students in larger cities is zipping around on a rented bike from City Bikes. For just 250 kronor you can borrow bikes throughout the city as often as you desire, between April and October.

Otherwise, public transportation is a reasonably cheap way to get around town, and usually there are special student prices. See more details about handy resources and transport here.

Books:

Course literature is a never-ending source of frustration for students old and new. The many required books are often hard to come by, as two hundred course mates race to empty the shelves on the first day of class, and always horridly expensive.

However, there are a number of solutions that’ll save you both the chaos and the costs. The key words to remember are organisation and foresight.

Your local library will have a few copies of the required books, but never enough for the whole class, so to avoid the stampede, get in there early.

Insider tip: it’s often possible to reserve books in advance on library websites.

Other cheap reading options are borrowing from friends and photocopying necessary pages, or buying second hand – keep an eye out for a bulletin board near your lecture halls, where former students try to sell their used books for a low price.

Clothing:

Say goodbye to the high street – from now on, buy all your clothes second hand. Vintage shopping is dirt cheap, lots of fun, and has the added advantage of currently being highly fashionable.

Check out examples of Sweden’s second-hand scene at chain stores Stadsmissionen and Myrorna. The chains exist in most large cities, so look up the nearest one near you.

Besides, maybe your new life as a student can involve a slimmed-down wardrobe? You can always try hosting a clothing swap as well – get together with friends and switch clothes so everyone can find something they like!

Now that your new outfit is assembled, gather all items in your closet that you no longer want, and either give them away to charity or sell them for a tidy profit to be spent at the nearest student pub!

Do you have other tips for managing on a tight budget in Sweden? Comment below!

For members

EUROPEAN UNION

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:

https://www.eiopa.europa.eu/browse/regulation-and-policy/pan-european-personal-pension-product-pepp/consumer-oriented-faqs-pan_en 

https://www.eiopa.europa.eu/browse/regulation-and-policy/pan-european-personal-pension-product-pepp_en 

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

SHOW COMMENTS