Written by Hayu Hamemayu
It’s a common knowledge, I think, that living in Sweden is not cheap. According to a data from Numbeo (February 7, 2018), “Cost of living in Sweden (rent is excluded), is 15.47% higher than in United States.” However, thanks to the Swedish ways of life, there are some things that we can do to save a little bit of money. Here is the list based on my personal experience:
1. Shop “home brand”
When you shop at Swedish supermarkets, you’d better check their home brand first for comparison, as their price could be much cheaper. Some of these home brands use the supermarket’s name like ICA; some others use totally different names because they have cooperation with certain suppliers, like Garant and Eldorado. But, you can tell which ones those are from their simple, plain and usually duo-tone colours packaging since that’s how they keep the prices low. The quality of these home brand products is okay especially when you need to save money for the rainy days. ☺
Don’t worry if you can’t find a definite translation for this phrase. It is actually a combination of two words: “panta” (recycle) and “mera” (more) and is used as a slogan to encourage people to recycle more. Pantamera itself is considered an essential activity in Sweden and is famous among Swedes; they even made songs about it (you can see one of the videos here).
So, how exactly does this pantamera thing helps you save some money?
Pantamera gives you “immediate reward” when you buy coca cola, bottled water, cider, and any other products that aren’t the healthiest and heavily taxed to discourage the public from consuming them. These products have a recycling logo along with the amount of money they are worth, like 1 kronor or 1.5 kronor, on their labels.
This works by returning the cans or bottles to the pantamera machines in the supermarkets and you will get money/coupon as a return. You can also donate the money you’ve collected from pantamera by choosing the option “donate” on the machine so it’s like saving the world and your money at the same time.
3. Buy second hand
Recycling is a lifestyle in Sweden. So, unlike in some parts of the world, there’s nothing shameful in buying used stuff in Sweden. In fact, it gives you more advantages, as the prices are obviously low while the quality can still be good. You can get pre-owned stuffs in second hand shops (of course! 😀 ), Sell and Buy groups, Online Marketplaces and Loppis (garage sale). Some loppis are permanent and you usually find them at the flea markets in your city’s squares (torget) on the weekend.
4. Bike and Walk
Whenever possible, take a walk or ride a bike in Sweden. It is healthier for your body and “healthier” for the environment and your pocket as well. With its well-developed network of cycle paths, biking in Sweden is a reasonable option. Getting a cheap bike is also easy especially when you live in a student city like Lund. So, instead of spending money on public transportation, you can invest your money to buy a bike or simply walk if your destination isn’t too far. As Steven Wright argues, “Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time.”
Bring your own: your own bag, your own bottle, and your own lunch.
By bringing your own bag when you shop, you will save the cost for plastic or paper bags. Then, by bringing your own bottle, you don’t need to spend your money on bottled water as it is safe to refill it with tap water from the kitchen or at a refill station.
What about bringing your own lunch?
Well, the average price for lunch in Lund is 59-79 kronor per portion for a single menu and 89-119 kronor for a buffet, while the price for groceries, vegetables and fruits are way cheaper (a loaf of bread costs you less than 25 kronor for example). Thus, making (then bringing) your own lunch is another way to save some money.
I agree, though, that these five things will not turn you into millionaire. But after a few months, I can guarantee that you will see the difference. After all, a kronor saved is a kronor earned. Don’t you think so?
Hayu Hamemayu is a Lund-based freelance writer whose work has appeared in The Jakarta Post, Media Indonesia, Kompas, Majalah Kartini, and Indonesia Travel Magazine among others. A traveller mommy by nature and random thinker by inclination, she keeps memories in her Instagram @hayuhamemayu and writes her everyday stories in her blog.