Cutbacks to one’s own misery


We are living in interesting times in many ways, dear friends. The prices of essentials have risen while societal support has been weakened. More and more people find themselves having to work alongside studying or taking out loans to finance their lives. An interesting side note is that in 2010, the average student loan was €6,700, and by 2022, it had risen to €22,660 per student ( The burden of loans has far-reaching implications and may, for example, make it more difficult to buy a first home.

The crisis may indeed look like this, but one can alleviate their own financial distress through various means. Not all of us have investment assets to sell, investment properties to rent out, or even that bottle of champagne to exchange for sparkling wine. Despite our financial situations, it would be wise for each of us to review our spending habits. Are we buying unnecessary things that do not bring us joy or that we don’t even use?

Small streams make a great river. Even seemingly small purchases add up to large sums annually, which could have been used for something much more enjoyable or less detrimental to oneself. It is good to consider things that giving up would actually improve our well-being. Take, for example, the use of nicotine pouches. Buying a pack of nicotine pouches online costs about €3.50–€5. Let’s say one pack lasts a user a week (I discussed this with experienced users, and apparently, one pack can even last a day). Using one pack a week amounts to €208 annually. The amount of money spent increases significantly with the consumption rate of the pouches, as three packs a week would amount to €624 annually, over two months’ worth of student financial aid!

Switching from champagne to sparkling wine makes sense in that one can reduce their grocery bill by making small changes to their consumption habits. Seasonal fruits and vegetables are often cheaper (my consumption of oranges skyrocketed during the season). But also, by minimizing waste, one prevents precious money from ending up in the trash bin.

I would also like to give a special mention to thrift stores. Moving into your own place is an exciting experience but can also be financially challenging for many. I’ve been receiving “move-out-of-home” gifts since I was ten (they didn’t warm the heart of 10-year-old Jimi, as I was always waiting for video games). However, ten years later, independence became relevant, and that’s when they warmed the heart of 20-year-old Jimi. However, after pondering for a while, the price of all that stuff would make my bank account tremble in fear. Had I explored various thrift stores, I could have acquired at least some of the necessary household items and other unnecessary things, like dishes, at a considerably lower cost. I encourage giving thrift stores a chance in many ways. The pest problem from a sofa bought from a thrift store certainly brightens up every student’s daily life. Let’s remember to wash those textiles properly.

Students also have political power, which, if exercised, could improve their own societal position. The easiest ways to influence are by giving feedback, voting in elections, and responding to surveys. All of these actions would give us as actors more opportunities to oversee students’ interests and signal to politicians that by making student-friendly policies, they can gain support from students in elections.

-Jimi Oosi, Advocacy coordinator (Well-being), VAMOK