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Saving Money in Stockholm: Five Tips for Students

Ah, the lifestyle of a student…

Our schedule is grounded in our studies, but we also have a high degree of flexibility compared to working professionals. We get to be part of a concentrated community of young people while also living on our own as young adults. We work hard, but we get to have a lot of freedom and fun along the way. 

I think student life is full of perks. But one reality of ‘full-time studies’ is that we don’t have a ‘full-time job’ or the paycheck that comes with it. As a result, saving money is a priority for many students, myself included! 

So, I’ve compiled five tips that can help you save money as an international student in Stockholm: 

  1. Get your student card(s)

There are two student cards you can register for (for free!) as a student in Sweden: (1) Mecenat, and (2) Studentkortet. Both of them are actually digital cards, which you receive through the respective apps. With the student card, you get discounts online and/or in-store for everything from clothing and train tickets to coffee shops, tech products, and more.

  1. Buy a bike – and use it!

Stockholm is very accessible by bike and has reliable cycling infrastructure that people often use, many even throughout the winter. You can find a bicycle in good used condition for roughly 50-100 euros through second-hand bike shops, as well as informal online marketplaces. It’s a great way to build a little exercise into your day, but the savings also add up! For reference: a monthly student metro pass is 64 euros..

  1. Save money on food – apps for reducing local food waste

There are a variety of apps for reducing local food waste (and buying said food for cheap!) in Stockholm. Some apps are for buying discount restaurant food or bakery goods that would otherwise be thrown away at the end of the day. Another app allows neighbours to post and give away random excess food or supplies for free. And my personal favourite offers day-old grocery produce at a significantly reduced price; it’s usually less “pretty” but always edible. 

  1. Find the Pop-up Återbruk (Pop-up recycling)

This was one of my favourite accidental discoveries. One day on campus I saw a big orange shipping container, and it turned out to be the pop-up recycling that circulates around Stockholm on weekends from April to October. It’s a reuse collection system that feeds into the local thrift stores, though you can also leave items (electronics, batteries, etc.) for recycling. But! They also have a “bargain corner” from which you can take items for free! I’ve found a few quality kitchen supplies this way. 

  1. Be your own chef / bartender

Of course, student life isn’t just about school. It’s fun to go out for food or drinks with friends. In Stockholm, I do this in moderation. More often, I cook dinners at home with friends, and we buy our drinks directly from Systembolaget. My friends and I did this a lot during the height of the pandemic. Even with the restrictions now lifted, we haven’t changed much!

More than just savings…

Efforts to save money can often feel like you’re sacrificing something else along the way. I want to emphasize with these five tips that there are plenty of creative ways to save while also experiencing other positive side effects. Contributing to your physical and mental health, treating yourself, enjoying time with friends, recycling, and reducing food waste can also be part of your savings.

// Claire