Everyone who knows me well will know that this post is pretty ironic since I am the worst person at budgeting, or saving at all for that matter. However, after picking one of the most expensive locations for my exchange, I’ve had to learn a thing or two and, despite my best efforts, this post is a mixture of advice and learning from my mistakes.
One of the most cost effective ways to save money on groceries is to share the workload. From almost as soon as I moved into my accommodation, I have been doing shared dinners with others in my residence. This began with just three of us, and has since grown to six people who each take turns cooking dinner around one night a week. I’ve found this is a great way to not only save money, but the time and effort you save from not buying groceries and cooking every night of the week is a game changer. You eat better food as there is more energy put into each dinner, as well as broadening your palate. With three kiwis, a Canadian, a Dutchman and a Serbian, we were certainly eating a variety of food – and saving money!
This may seem like the most obvious tip in the world but you’d be surprised – convert your currency!!! I find that it is so easy to mindlessly pay for things when you aren’t paying in a currency you’re used to. More often than not I’ll mindlessly pay $40SEK for a cuppa ($6.50NZD) and feel like kicking myself afterwards when I do the conversion. This mainly applies to unnecessary treats like drinks out (shout out $25 vodka sodas), eating at cafes and midnight snacks from my local supermarket. Like I said, learn from my mistakes…
Another lesson I wish I could tell my past self is that not all travel is smart travel. Most of my savings on this exchange are going towards travel in some shape or form, but I’ve become much more strategic recently. Getting perspective is super important when planning your movements, and I realised after a while that some travel is going to be more beneficial to me when I have more money and time to enjoy it. I situated myself in Europe to make it easier for me to travel, but I’ve decided to save certain destinations (hello Iceland!) for a time when it won’t result in me eating pot noodles for a month.
Finally, my last tip (which I haven’t used) is budget from the beginning. When I arrived, I was travelling for a month before I landed in Stockholm and spent a disproportionate (and unnecessary) amount of my savings. Smarter people than I have been recording all their expenses from the get go. Basically, just remember that anything you have has to last you until then end. With all this being said, I still am a (broke) hypocrite. At the end of the day, your exchange is about making the most of every experience and I personally believe it’s worth every cent.
I’m spending the final week of my time on exchange in Eastern Europe where I’m hoping for a cheaper lifestyle than here in Stockholm. Will keep you updated in my next post!