How to save money during your exchange period
Claims that "you can always make money but you can't always make memories" are difficult to believe when you are a broke student. When you are living abroad, you spend money in ways you might not have expected and more money than you would like. Between all the parties, trips and other fun activities, life in The Netherlands can be quite expensive. In this brief article, we will give you a guide to saving money while living in Utrecht, so you don't have to survive abroad with an empty wallet.
Although it is tempting to do your groceries at the nearest supermarket, it might not be the cheapest option. Prices differ in Dutch supermarkets and this can make a rather large difference in the amount you spend. The two cheapest supermarkets are Aldi and Lidl but you can also adjust your consumption to eat what is offered on sale in the supermarket.
Another option is is the market at Vredenburg. You can go there every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Concerning fruits, vegetables and fish the Vredenburg market proposes greater quality and prices! Another place to shop for fruits and vegetables is Lombok, where there are plenty of stands. They also sell many different spices and herbs for a fairer price than supermarkets.
Another interesting option is downloading the app "Too Good to Go" to be able to get lower prices on food that will be disposed of soon unless it is bought.
Most importantly, it is cheaper to cook for yourself than to order in every night (no judgment, we've all been there).
In addition, we recommend tapped water instead of bottled since the water is potable.
Know where and how to party low budget! First of all, you should bring your student card and ESN card. Some places have entrance fees for non-students, but are free for students. Furthermore, make sure you go to the places with the cheapest (but the best) drinks. Some clubs or bars are expensive, while other places sell cheaper drinks or have student discount promotions.One such example for good student discounts, is the ESN Student Night in the Poema every Tuesday!
If not to fit in with the Dutchies, buying or renting a bike at Swapfiets saves you the expensive public transport costs. You can buy a second hand bike with 10% discount at Celil CityBike! Make sure you lock your bike (with a chainlock) every time you park it, though. There are a lot of bikes in Utrecht, and as a result also a lot of bike thieves!
If you are not into the idea of cycling everywhere, you should buy an OV chipcard as you can use it for most of the public transport services in the Netherlands. You can top it up with a debit card at one of the yellow vending machines at Utrecht Central Station. This is cheaper than buying a bus or train ticket every time you're using the public transport.
If you’re not too confident in managing your own budget, download one of the apps like "You Need a Budget" or "GoodBudget" to help you keep track of your expenditures and save you from impulse buying. These Apps can also be super helpful if this is your first time living alone or without your family, so definitely check them out!