Tips for Broke Students
Translation: Ásdís Sól Ágústsdóttir
We're all familiar with the age-old dilemma of surviving month to month on just your student loans, while paying sky-high rent. Not to mention needing money for Octoberfest and Christmas presents for the entire family. The most reliable strategy, which many are employing today, is living at Hotel Mom. If that isn’t a possibility any more, you can still always invite yourself home to dinner, or to your grandparents’ house, your in-laws, or to your brother’s best friend’s dog’s neighbour’s house. It can also be smart to ride your bike to school. That way you don't have to pay for a bus pass, or car registration and gasoline. And if you live far enough away it can double as exercise, saving you money on a gym membership.
The art of living frugally is demanding and rarely comes naturally, although some have an excellent sense for cheap solutions. For example, it is absolutely essential to buy used books. There are also lost-and-found bins all around town that are well worth digging through – you may find some treasures you’ve been seeking for ages. With time you learn that a tea bag can be used twice, and kitchen scissors are a cheaper alternative to going to the salon. Many find it hard to keep track of where their money is going. It can be helpful to ration your spending money for the month or the week. It can also be useful to pay with cash; this way you’ll get a better sense of what things actually cost.
Below are 10 tips to help you set aside some money each month, so that one day you just might make it out of the rental market.
1. Cook foods in large portions, freeze the leftovers, and eat the following week or bring for lunch the following day. It can be smart to take turns cooking for a group of friends.
2. Be organized when it comes to going to the supermarket – make a shopping list and stick to it. The less you go to the store the less you’ll buy what you don’t need.
3. Have an “eat me first” shelf in the refrigerator and make a “clean-out-the-fridge” dish on a regular basis. Throwing away food equals throwing away money – and that’s just ridiculous!
4. Buy an entire chicken instead of just the chicken breast, filets or drumsticks. Also, buy your nuts from the baking aisle, not the health-food aisle.
5. Use things (clothing, shoes, furniture etc.) longer than usual and avoid buying new things. To quote Borgardætur (my guilty pleasure): “See what they cost [the shoes], and maybe stop to think… life is okay even if I buy nothing.”
6. Try to finish your cosmetics before buying new ones. Don’t keep six hand creams that you'll never actually use lying around; they'll only take up precious space in your 37-square-meter apartment.
7. Get rid of your gym membership. Even though the view is great at World Class, it is equally beautiful at the top of Mount Esja.
8. Remember the lack of time we so often complain about when you need to renew your cable subscription – it isn’t free.
9. Drink more water and less of any drinks you have to pay for. Water costs nothing, but a bottle of soda costs about 250 krónur (that makes 91.250 krónur every year).
10. And finally, the tip given in every such list: cut back on alcohol and tobacco! Your health and your wallet will thank you. Four beers from a local bar each week cost about 4000 krónur, that makes 208.000 krónur every year. Not to mention the additional costs such as cab rides, fast food and headache medicine. In the first place, it would be better to buy your beer at the state store (about 300 krónur for one beer) and second, simply drink less alcohol and learn to have fun sober!