Is 650 eur monthly enough to cover all costs of living as a student?

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I would be starting a masters degree in architecture at the TU Braunschweig, and plan on hopefully snagging a cheap WG spot in the city. Going from just the student visa requirements, I have just more than 650 EUR monthly, or 16.620 EUR for all two years, to cover all expenses (minus flights). I realize this is cutting it close, and hope to find a paid internship in nearby Hannover. Anyway, with general cost-cutting, ie. cooking at home, not partying too much, will 650 EUR be adequate to live on?

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Yes, if you get a WG room, you can live pretty well from this.

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1 hour ago, brianjunker said:

In Berlin you can scrape by on that amount. BAFöG student aid only gives you €670, as a reference.

Ah that's good to hear, especially since I'm deciding between that and TU Berlin as well! I think it's a safe assumption that Braunschweig will be the cheaper of the two. Can you (or anyone else) propose a maximum monthly rent, for one or both of these cities, that I should aim for? Around 250-300 eur?

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Looking at Braunschweig on immoscout, you can find 33 rooms at 250€ or less today.  Not saying they are all nice but it gives you an idea.  In Berlin which is of course much bigger, you can find 219 rooms of the same.

 

Keep in mind that utilities are usually not included in the advertised rent.  In Germany utilities are estimated and paid on top and every year, they read the meters and split the actual costs between the tenants.  As such, it is possible that in the new year, your household will be presented with a bill if you used more heating or warm water than estimated.  

 

Since rent is the largest of your monthly posts, you do of course need to minimize it in order to give yourself a little room for other posts such as eating for example. 

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1 hour ago, Pandekage said:

Ah that's good to hear, especially since I'm deciding between that and TU Berlin as well! I think it's a safe assumption that Braunschweig will be the cheaper of the two. Can you (or anyone else) propose a maximum monthly rent, for one or both of these cities, that I should aim for? Around 250-300 eur?

You should also try to find info about where it will be easier to find a job during the holidays (which you will need). Not sure whether Berlin will come out ahead in this comparison. You could also get in touch with the respective student associations. They might be able to give you relevant first hand info.

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I think 650 € is very little even for Braunschweig, I would rather calculate with a minimum of 750 €. The TU's website has model budgets, see Finanzierung des Studiums. "Spar" (Economy) is even less with 570 €, but that is based on a dormitory room for 240 € and costs for food and drink of 130 €, which I don't find realistic. The "Normal" budget with 725 € still means being economic. Students rarely have much money, but as a foreign student, you are likely to spend more at the beginning because you may not know all the money-saving tricks and need to purchase basic things for the household.

 

You may also consider applying for a dorm place at the Studentenwerk. I don't know how difficult it is to get a place (there are probably waiting lists), but they offer different types (single rooms, apartments, also WG type accommodation) for reasonable prices. If you arrive shortly before the start of the semester, most WG rooms will be gone.

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14 minutes ago, RainyDays said:

I think 650 € is very little even for Braunschweig, I would rather calculate with a minimum of 750 €. The TU's website has model budgets, see Finanzierung des Studiums. "Spar" (Economy) is even less with 570 €, but that is based on a dormitory room for 240 € and costs for food and drink of 130, which I don't find realistic.

 

I can keep my food and drink under 130€ if I want to, not that I'd want to.  It just means penny pinching every time you go to the store.  Get the cheapest sandwich bread, cheapest cheese, cheapest ham, cheapest frozen pizza or whatever and just don't buy stuff you can't afford and you are not going to be eating out much.  Maybe you can afford McDonalds once a month if you have otherwise been good.  130€ in a 31 day month is 4,19€ per day.  It's doable but not necessarily fun.

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That sounds quite unhealthy, LG, but it gives an idea. Typically, students have lunch at the Mensa because it saves time between courses and is an opportunity to socialise. A meal seems to cost about 2,50 € on average, see Studentenwerk, Mensa-Menüs. That leaves you with 1,69 € for breakfast and dinner Mo – Fr ...

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10 minutes ago, RainyDays said:

That sounds quite unhealthy, LG, but it gives an idea. Typically, students have lunch at the Mensa because it saves time between courses and is an opportunity to socialise. A meal seems to cost about 2,50 € on average, see Studentenwerk, Mensa-Menüs. That leaves you with 1,69 € for breakfast and dinner Mo – Fr ...

 

I don't think I would want to spend 2,50 on one meal if I was on a budget like that.  Maybe a couple of times a week.  Otherwise make sandwiches and take with.  I did this when I was a manpower worker.  So maybe it's unhealthy but I doubt I am eating any healthier today.  I'm just not bothered about the prices anymore.  Still buy the cheapest sandwich bread because there is no difference but now I get smoked salmon on it when I feel like it.  Still get frozen pizza but now I buy the one that I'd like and not the cheapest.

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When I was a university student, I was also trying to save on food. As a result, after a few months, my weight went from 74kg down to 54kg (i'm 1.80m tall). Not because I ate less, just because the food was crap, so my body was not processing it.

 

From that low point, I swore never to save on food again.

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Can you eat healthily and save money?

 

You bet your bottom dollar you can! Here are tips to help you have your (low-fat) cake and eat it.

 

From: http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/eat4cheap/Pages/cheap-food-shopping.aspx

 

Write a shopping list

Draw up a weekly meal plan using up ingredients you already have and make a shopping list of any missing items.

Try not to shop when hungry. People who shop when hungry are more likely to spend more, especially on less healthy foods, such as high-fat and sugary snacks. 

 

Waste nothing

The average family with children throws away almost £60 of good food every month. Be strict about buying only what you'll actually eat.

Plan your meals so that all ingredients on your list get used. Freeze any unused food. Food storage bags and boxes will come in handy. 

 

Eat leftovers for lunch

Cook extra portions for your evening meal so that you can have the leftovers for lunch the next day.

Any leftovers can be frozen for another day. Eventually, you'll have a freezer full of homemade ready meals on tap. Find out how to use leftovers safely. 

 

Buy frozen

Frozen fruit and vegetables are underrated. They come pre-chopped and ready to use, are just as good for you (try to avoid those with added salt, sugar or fat), and are often cheaper than fresh varieties.

Frozen vegetables are picked at the peak of freshness and then frozen to seal in their nutrients. Get tips on freezing and defrosting. 

 

Eat more veg

Meat and fish are typically the most expensive food ingredients on a shopping list. How about adding vegetables to meat dishes such as casseroles to make your meals go further? Or try a few vegetarian meals during the week to keep costs down?

Make it fun by joining the thousands of people who regularly take part in meat-free Monday. 

 

Cook with pulses

Pulses, such as beans, lentils and peas, are some of the cheapest foods on the supermarket shelf. These pulses are low in calories and fat but packed with fibre, vitamins and minerals and also count towards your 5 A DAY.

Use them in dishes to replace some of the chicken or meat, such as a chilli con carne with kidney beans or a chicken curry with chickpeas. 

 

Freeze leftover bread

Bread is one of the most wasted household foods. Reduce waste by freezing bread, preferably in portions (for convenience) and when it's at its freshest (for taste).

Store bread in an airtight container (such as a freezer bag) to avoid freezer burn.  

 

Know your kitchen

Know what's in your kitchen store cupboard, fridge and freezer. You may find you've got enough ingredients to make a meal!

Plan your week's meals to include ingredients you've already got in and avoid buying items you already have. Check use-by dates to make sure you use up ingredients before they go off.  

 

Buy cheaper cuts

If you're prepared to take a little more time with your cooking, buying cheaper cuts of meat is a great way to save money. Choosing a cheaper cut of meat, such as braising steak, shin or shoulder, doesn't mean missing out on a tasty meal.

Slow cooking gradually breaks down the fibres in cheaper cuts, giving great taste at a lower cost. 

 

Look up cheap recipes

Cheap doesn't have to mean less tasty. There are plenty of websites offering recipes for cheap eats and leftover ingredients. 

Check out Change4Life's meal mixer and our Healthy recipes section for some inspiration. 

 

Eat smaller portions

Try eating smaller portions by saying no to a second helping or using smaller plates. You'll have more left over for lunch the next day and your waistline may benefit, too!

Try weighing or measuring out staples such as pasta and rice when cooking to stay in control of portion size and reduce waste.  

 

Cook from scratch

Save money by cutting back on takeaways. Preparing and cooking your own meals is generally cheaper than buying a takeaway or a ready meal, and because it's easier to control what goes in to your dish, it can be healthier. 

 

Buy chicken whole

The cheapest way to buy chicken is to buy a whole chicken. From a whole chicken, you'll get two breasts, two thighs, drumsticks and wings, plus a carcass for making stock.

Consider using the deli counter for cheese and cured meats. You can get exact amounts, which is cheaper and less wasteful. 

 

Compare pre-packed with loose

Fruit and vegetables sometimes cost more pre-packed than loose. Check the price per weight (for example £/kg). Stores know that consumers want to buy in bulk, and so they mix it up: sometimes the packed produce is cheaper, sometimes it's more expensive. 

Also, pre-packed isn't always the freshest and you may end up with more than you need. 

 

Cut down on luxuries

If your regular shopping basket tends to include fizzy drinks, crisps, snack bars, biscuits and cakes, try trimming down on these non-essential items. Many of these are high in sugar and fat so you'll be doing your waistline as well as your bottom line a favour. They can also contain a lot of salt. 

Think about cheaper and healthier alternatives – such as sparkling water and fruit juice instead of cola, or fruit and plain yoghurt.

 

Beware of BOGOF offers

Special discounts such as buy-one-get-one-free (BOGOF) deals can offer good value, but be careful: only buy items you actually need and are likely to keep and use – tinned or frozen fruit and veg or rice and pasta are a good example. 

 

Markdowns on perishables at the end of the shopping day are another way to bag a saving – but make sure the item gets used before the use-by-date and doesn't go off sooner than expected. 

 

Shop online

Price comparison websites, such as mysupermarket.com, let you select a basket of products and then choose the cheapest supplier. The price differences can be significant. Unlike going to the shops yourself, you'll know how much you've spent before going to the till, which can make it easier to stay within budget. 

 

Shop during the 'happy hour'

Most supermarkets discount fresh items towards the end of the day. However, with longer opening hours it's a case of finding out just the right time to grab those bargains. If you time it right and the "reduced to clear shelves" can save you big money. Always check use-by dates.

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40 minutes ago, MikeMelga said:

When I was a university student, I was also trying to save on food. As a result, after a few months, my weight went from 74kg down to 54kg (i'm 1.80m tall). Not because I ate less, just because the food was crap, so my body was not processing it.

 

I've certainly never had that problem.  I haven't weighed 54kg since elementary school.

 

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Food sharing is also an option. That way you can get food for free, but it takes some time to obtain it. This is food which supermarkets can no longer sell (will expire tomorrow, package half broken etc) and give to charities and food sharing communities. Note that in Germany not only poor people do it, some do it for ideological (do not like wasted food) reasons, not financial. Some do it for fun etc.

 

Some Google will help to find places in your town.

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25 minutes ago, Janx Spirit said:

 

Can you eat healthily and save money?

 

You bet your bottom dollar you can! Here are tips to help you have your (low-fat) cake and eat it.

 

From: http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/eat4cheap/Pages/cheap-food-shopping.aspx

 

Some of these are good but if you are really on a budget, nobody is going to have to tell you not to waste food because you can't afford to buy food to throw it away.  Same with fizzy drinks and snacks, if you are living on 4€ a day and you spend them on coke and snacks, it just means that you will not be eating any food that day or if you blow your budget, it means you will not have anything at all to eat the last days of the month.

 

For people who can't stick to a budget, t-he best advice I know is to take your 130€ or however much you have to spend on food and keep it in your house.  Before you go shopping, count how much you have left and how many days it still has to last.  If you are really bad, you can even split up the money for each week.  You can start the week by shopping for staple food and leave a bit for something you might need later in the week.

 

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@Janx- great list!  Once you start on these suggestions- you will do this for life, and save money. Planning the week's menus ( be flexible), means you know what you need., and do not buy too large quantities.

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3 hours ago, RedMidge said:

@Janx- great list!  Once you start on these suggestions- you will do this for life, and save money. Planning the week's menus ( be flexible), means you know what you need., and do not buy too large quantities.

 

I actually started following a lot of the tips three months ago and with a family of 4 save €200 a month.

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1 hour ago, Janx Spirit said:

 

I actually started following a lot of the tips three months ago and with a family of 4 save €200 a month.

Wow, €200 is a lot.

 

I pay now more attention to discounts in supermarkets and stack mainly non-food items like washing powder, toilet paper, cleaning stuff or long-life products like coffee (€3,88 instead of €5,99), can of soup, rice, etc. Some items like ice-cream are on sale like every 6 weeks and I just store it in the freezer. I can't remember when I paid the full price. Buy veggies and fruit which are in season. Saves me about €250 per year = return flight to Mallorca :).

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