Raha – what does it mean to you?

It’s no secret… Finland is an expensive place to live in.

Raha is Finnish for money but in Swahili means joy or happiness. It is no secret that Finland has a high cost of living, but there are some ways to make raha (Finnish) bring you raha (Swahili).

I was seated in a bar and got chatting with a friend about life in general. The conversation went towards how one can stretch a euro for as long as possible. So this is my two cents on what a person can do in Jyväskylä. Of course these are not the only ways.

Bike Vs Bus Vs Walking. Jyväskylä’s bicycle and walking path network is expansive. That  means there is no need to compete with cars for space. So why would it be a good idea to own a bicycle? Well, its good exercise, you have space for parking in nearly every building and in the long run it is cheap. Allow me to give you some figures, a bus trip is 3 euros per trip so by the end of the day its 6 euros (to and fro). If you buy a bicycle for 70 euros (a modest bike), the bike saves you money after 12 days. Sounds logical.
But what if i cannot ride a bike?  It is said that 30 minutes of brisk walking is good for your health. Another good thing about the location of the student housing areas, is the close proximity to the city centre. From personal experience, i prefer walking in late autumn and winter because the roads are icy and with good clothing i feel warmer when i reached my destination.
What if I do not like walking and I cannot ride a bicycle? A money saving option would be to purchase multiple trip tickets. They have a range of options to choose from. If you consider this option, the http://www.jyvaskylanliikenne.fi is the website of the local bus company. Google translate would be useful for the Finnish words.

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Like in many consumer societies all around the world, From outgrown clothes to household furniture, 2nd hand stores, yard sales (mostly in early autumn and summer), counter trade stores are found in the many parts of the city. The concept of counter trade, especially in the student villages is one of a kind. It works on the simple principle of take what you need and bring what you don’t need as long as it is not broken or damaged. 2nd hand stores would be worth visiting especially on a tight budget. You may be lucky to find some new items that someone else didn’t like.

Putting your culinary skills to the test. I must admit, am not a chef but I can cook for myself and anyone else not fussy about what they eat. I love food from my home country and also a lot of Indian food. However, I went to a restaurant and my jaw dropped at the prices (after converting to my home currency and comparing the prices). It was then I decided, that I will try making it that following weekend. To cut a long story short, the food turned out edible for nearly half the price. I discovered student groups that had cooking classes (depending on the area, some are free; all you need to buy are the ingredients) and participated in some.

Internet purchases, e-bay. This is to be used at personal discretion. Use trusted sites only. A good source of items within Finland is the huuto.net which is the Finnish version of E-bay. I must admit, it is quite handy especially once you have the hang of the rating system of the sellers and the bidding system. Remember to check if the shipping, postage and/or other taxes are included in the price.

Keep your eyes peeled… A friend of mine was always on the lookout for sales, coupons, loyalty points, discounts, promotions etc… mostly advertised in the local papers and she got really good deals on many items. The two major sales seasons are in January and July (at least from what I saw), where good quality can be offered to up to 80% discount (seeing is believing). This tactic requires patience, luck and planning.

Remember you are a student; use it to your advantage… There are all these student discounts in many shops, cafeterias, restaurants, buses, trains, airlines, clubs, travel agencies and so on. If you have a student card, ask if there are discounts offered. My personal favourite is using the student card in many museums on Fridays … Free entrance.

Follow the rules and don’t lock yourself out of your room… Not long ago, I went to school as always and in my rush locked myself out of my room. With no spare key and since it was outside accommodation office hours, I called the janitor to open the room for me. When the janitor opened the room, he immediately billed me for the service. Experience is a good teacher.