Photographer:Fotograaf: Simone Golob
Freshmen special 2019
Rent, tuition fees, books, food, insurance, going out. Frightening, just how much money needs to be paid out every month when you first become a student. Fortunately there are many ways to economise. Here are some tips.
Know what you are spending
In order to know where you can economise, you first have to know where the money is going. Keep – very old fashioned – a housekeeping book for two weeks. Write down everything you spend and see what your largest expenses are.
Then ask yourself: do I want and can I afford to spend so much money on this? Maybe you are a real coffee lover and you really like spending your money on an espresso at a fancy coffee bar. Maybe you love clothes and prefer to buy them at Chanel rather than at H&M. If you are truly broke, you will have to take drastic measures, but if you are just slightly skint, making conscious choices should be enough.
Students spend on average 417 euro per month on rent in the Netherlands. If you pay much more, you can check to see if that is right at www.huurcommissie.nl. This website can be used to do a price check. The system awards points for things like square footage and facilities, and on the basis of this information calculates a maximum ‘basic’ rent (excluding service costs). If your rent is higher, you can lodge a complaint and request a rent reduction from your landlord.
To help international students with this Dutch procedure there is a Housing Helpdesk (www.housinghelpdesk.nl). The helpdesk can also help you with other questions, for example, if you have problems with your tenancy agreement.
Anyone living in the Netherlands who earns very little, has a right to allowances. For example, remission of council taxes. To the utter shock of students they receive a letter from the municipal authorities every year. It states that they have to pay tax for sewerage charges and the collection of waste, sometimes to the amount of hundreds of euros. But many students qualify for remission. Check out www.bsgw.nl/en whether this applies to you.
Other allowances that you may qualify for include rent rebate (if you are living in self-contained unit) and health care allowance (if you have Dutch health care insurance). You will find more information on this subject at www.belastingdienst.nl
The easiest way to save money on food and drink is to share with friends or housemates. It's good fun too. You can buy cheaply on the market (Wednesday and Friday mornings), at the end of the day in the supermarket (at Albert Heijn you can look out for the 35 per cent discount stickers on products that have almost reached their sell-by date) and by keeping an eye out for special offers. Try to eat seasonal products. Strawberries are a lot cheaper when they come from the Netherlands instead of being flown in from Kenya.
Another option is the Too Good To Go-app. Shops and restaurants that are linked to this app, sell surprise boxes for a small amount of money. At the end of the day, they put food in a box that they would otherwise have thrown away. This may be a big bag full of bread for 4 euro. Not only good for your wallet, but it also helps against unnecessary waste.
Another way to make ends meet more easily is of course increasing your income. How do you get a job in Maastricht?
If you are from the EU/EEA or Switzerland, you are free to work without any restrictions. As of 1 July 2018, Croats have the same rights as other EU citizens and no longer need a work permit.
Are you from another country than the ones mentioned above? Then there are some restrictions if you want to work as well as study. You need a permit and you can only work for a maximum of 16 hours a week or, instead, you can work full-time during the summer months of June, July and August. You are allowed to work and do an internship at the same time.
It’s your employer who needs to apply for a work permit, if necessary. However, it is your obligation to take out Dutch basic healthcare insurance, as soon as you get a job. This obligation also applies to students who are self-employed. If you do not meet this requirement, you risk a huge fine.
You can compare health insurances at www.zorgkiezer.nl. You may be eligible for healthcare benefit. To find out, check the Dutch Tax Office website: www.belastingdienst.nl
If you have a job, your employer will need to know your social security number (BSN). Insurance companies may also ask for your BSN. When registering with your local council, you are automatically issued a BSN.
You are required to pay tax on your total Dutch income for the year. Scholarships may also be counted as income and added to the total. For more information on income tax, you can check with your employer or directly with the Dutch Tax Office.
There are several job agencies in Maastricht for student jobs. For instance, InterUM (www.interum.eu), ASA (www.asatalent.nl), Wiertz Personeelsdiensten (www.wiertz.com) and Flexpoint (www.flexpoint.nl).