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MONEY

How to save money as a student in Denmark

Life on a student budget doesn't have to be tough in Denmark -- follow these tips to get the most out of the experience at a low price.

How to save money as a student in Denmark
There are many discounts on offer to students in Denmark. Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash

Food

One of the biggest challenges as a student is working out how much money you need to dedicate to the food shop every month, and it can be easy to misjudge, run out of funds and end up living off Denmark’s popular money-saving dish — ketchup on pasta — for weeks.

Denmark has higher food prices than many other countries, which have only got more expensive in recent months, so finding the right balance can be a challenge, but there are a few tricks you can use to make it easier.

Once you have your student card, after you’ve enrolled at your university, you can use it at many restaurants and cafes to get discounts, (studierabat) including the big chains like Burger King and Bar’Sushi

 
It’s worth keeping in mind that you might be asked need to show an indskrivningsbekræftelse — confirmation of current enrolment — along with your student card. These can normally be downloaded digitally from your college or university’s self-service platform and saved onto your smart phone or printed.
If you want a unique dining experience in Copenhagen, it’s worth trying out Fællesspisning at Absalon, a former church turned community events venue in the Vesterbro district.
 
Absalon offers a communal dining initiative, where everyone pays the same to eat the same vegetarian meal together. An evening meal costs 50 kroner from Sunday to Thursday. On Friday and Saturday you get two dishes for 100 kroner. Tickets are sold online and there are often events on after the meal, which starts at 6pm. Lunch and breakfast is also available at the location but not as communal dining. 
 
 
On a student budget you won’t be eating out every day of course, but there are ways to save money on groceries. Through the app Too Good To Go, you can buy unsold food from bakeries, cafes and restaurants at their closing times, which saves on food waste, as well as your money. All you have to do is download the app, look for surplus food in your local area, arrange a pick up time, pay through the app (as little as 24 kroner) and collect. 

Menucard offers discounts at cafes, bars, restaurants if you work for a company that is a member of the scheme.

The International Student Identity Card (ISIC) gives you a 35 percent discount on your first HelloFresh meal kit delivery and 10 percent on 25 orders after that.

Coffee

Late nights are a guarantee at university, and in that scenario, coffee can be a necessity. In Denmark it doesn’t always come cheap, where you can easily pay 35 kroner or more for a cappuccino or latte.

One of Denmark’s biggest bakery chains, Lagkagehuset, offers students a 30 percent discount on all warm drinks. If you enjoy bread and pastry, it’s also worth downloading their app where you can earn points every time you spend, to then use in the bakery.

For an even cheaper cup of takeaway coffee, try 7-Eleven where anyone with a student card gets 25 percent off any size of coffee. A student card will also get you a bottle of Coca-Cola, Pepsi or Faxe Kondi for 8 kroner. 

The coffee chain Espresso House has an app you can download to pay for your coffee, which means you get 10 percent off, as well as other extra discounts and every 10th coffee for free.

If you’ve got a favourite local coffee shop, it’s well worth checking if they have any offers for students as well. For example, the Blue Bike Cafe in Copenhagen, offers a 10 percent student discount on all food and drink and Lima Aarhus has a 15 percent student discount on the entire bill, as well as 25 percent student discount on coffee every Thursday.

Travel

Denmark has a travel youth card calledungdomskort, which allows people aged 16 to 19 or in SU-eligible higher education to travel for free on bus, metro or train to and from their place of study. You can get the ungdomskort as a card or an app.

READ ALSO: SU: Can foreigners receive Denmark’s state student grant?

Other student discounts are available through the scheme, such as 20 percent off when you travel by train between regions, or travelling at a child fare rate outside your own zone area on Zealand, Lolland, Falster and Møn. DSB also offers discount prices on its orange tickets to those under the age of 26 with an ungdomskort.

With some of Denmark’s coastlines being difficult to reach by public transport, you may want to rent a car.

Car rental company Hertz offers a 15-20 percent student discount on their smaller cars as long as you are at least 19 years old and have held a driving license for 1 year.

Going further afield? Interrail Global Pass allows you to travel in up to 33 European countries for a fixed, low price for up to three months and Hotels.com gives students a 10 percent discount.

SAS offer discounts on flights on their Youth tickets, if you’re under the age of 26.  The booking agent Kilroy also offers discounts to students with the International Student Identity Card (ISIC). A student card also gets you a 10-15 percent discount on Flixbus which is a money-saving way to travel across Denmark and Europe by bus.

Sport

Watching a Danish football match is surprisingly affordable.

If you’re studying in the country’s second-biggest city and university town Aarhus, students and young people under 18 can buy an AGF season ticket for just 49 kroner a month.

In Aalborg, a ticket to watch AaB costs just 80 kroner for students. These discounted tickets can only be bought at the ticket booths at Aalborg Portland Park, which opens 1-2 hours before the start of the match.

Students are able to watch one of Denmark’s best football teams, FC Midtjylland, as well as the handball team HC Midtjylland and ice hockey team Herning Blue Fox, for just 15 kroner a ticket, thanks to a collaboration with Education Herning.

If you’d rather get involved in actually playing a sport, many amateur clubs and teams, as well as gyms and classes, have reduced rates for students, making it an affordable activity to try. University sports societies offer a range of sports usually at cheaper prices than classes open to the general public.

Culture

Theatres, museums, cinemas, concert halls can all give discounts if you show your student card. 

At Aarhus Theatre, students and people under 25 can purchase tickets to any performance on the grand stage at just 85 kroner.

An annual pass to the National Gallery of Denmark costs 195 kroner for those under the age of 27 or 95 kroner for a single ticket.

Musikhuset Aarhus has a ‘Klub Hund’ for 18-28 year olds, where tickets priced at 100 kroner are available the day before certain performances and sent to your mobile phone.

Young opera at the Royal Danish Theatre in Copenhagen (Det Kongelige Teater) is an offer for everyone between 15 and 30 years old to see four selected performances at the opera for 155 kroner per ticket. There are alternative introductions and cheap food and drinks too.

You may also want to keep up with Danish news while you’re spending time in the country. The Local offers a 50 percent student discount on Membership, giving you unlimited access to all our content for just €24.99 a year, reduced from €49.99. Find out more here.

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For members

PROPERTY

EXPLAINED: How to restructure and reduce your mortgage in Denmark

Denmark's unique borrowing system has enabled thousands of people to restructure their mortgages this year, cashing in on high interest rates which have caused a drop in market value of covered bonds. We explain how it all works and how you can potentially pay off a sum of your mortgage.

EXPLAINED: How to restructure and reduce your mortgage in Denmark

How does the mortgage system work in Denmark?

Denmark has a unique mortgage model, which is regarded as one of the best in the world.

When you take out a loan to buy a house in Denmark, the bank finances the loan through a covered bond [Danish:realkreditobligation,ed.] What makes the model unique is that you as the borrower know exactly what covered bond is issued to finance the loan.

“This direct link is very special to Denmark,”  Peter Jayaswal, executive director at Finans Danmark told The Local.

“You can follow what the market price is for the bond that is funding your loan in the capital market. A German borrower for example has a mortgage by the German bank issuing a loan using a covered bond. But there is no link, so the homeowner doesn’t know what the bond is.

“In Denmark, you can see it exactly. You can go onto your bank website everyday and follow the market price. That means that we have this early repayment system where I as a borrower am allowed to prepay my loan by buying back at market price the bond that has funded my loan,” Jayaswal explained.

When interest rates are increasing, it means that the price on the bonds is decreasing and this is why thousands of homeowners in Denmark have bought out their bonds this year, at a low market value and paid off a portion of their mortgage. 

READ ALSO: Interest rates encourage Danes to restructure mortgages

So how can I make this early repayment on my mortgage?

The first thing to do is to set up a meeting with your bank so they can assess whether you will benefit from the drop in bond value.

The market price of covered bonds is well documented in Danish media but you can also follow them on your bank’s website or by asking for an appointment with your bank to assess your current mortgage.

“You may at some point in the past have taken out a mortgage of 1 million kroner with a one percent fixed interest rate. To keep it simple, let’s say the loan is without amortisation.  When you took out this mortgage, the bond was issued at 99 kroner meaning that the nominal debt will be around 1,010,100 kroner to give a 1 million kroner revenue.

“Today you can see the interest rates have increased and the price on the bond financing your loan is say 80 kroner. As a borrower you can buy the bond in the market at market price and prepay the mortgage loan. But you only need to take out a new loan of around 808,000 kroner to do this.

“So you can take a new loan out at 808,000 kroner and use this to repay your existing loan and reduce your debt by around 200,000 kroner. This transaction can be done simultaneously by your bank, so you won’t end up with two loans,” Jayaswal told The Local.

What about interest rates on my mortgage?

The interest rate you get for your mortgage can be fixed or variable and they mirror the prices investors pay for the bonds. 

Fixed rate mortgage

Today, the fixed interest rate is five percent. This means that if you decide to buy your bond at the lower market value, you will have to take out a new loan at a higher interest rate.

“Using the example of reducing your mortgage by 200,000 kroner by buying the bond at a low market value, every month you are now paying an interest rate of five percent fixed term, rather than your one percent you had before. So you are paying more each month for the benefit of paying off a portion of your mortgage early and the benefits will decrease over time. 

“You usually break even after around ten to fourteen years but the bank will calculate this for you,” Jayaswal said.

“If you know you’re moving in two to three years, it makes sense to get a new loan with a higher interest rate because you’ll have to repay the loan anyway when you move. But if you think you’ll be in your home a long time, keeping this loan, then you need the interest rate to decrease in ten to fourteen years.

“And that’s the problem because we must be frank and say we can do all the forecasts but in the end no one knows what future interest rates will be, so it has to be the decision of the borrower,” Jayaswal explained.

Variable rate mortgage 

The other option is to take out a variable interest rate mortgage to buy the bond, which today is around three percent. However this carries a risk, as the interest rates are adjusted on a regular basis. F3 loans, for example, are adjusted every three years, while F5 loans have adjustments every five years.

“Changing from a fixed to variable interest rate, to reduce your debt and avoid an increase in interest rate, comes with a risk that you don’t have a fixed rate for 30 years, so you are more exposed and that’s very important be aware of,” Jayaswal told The Local.

On Monday, the company Totalkredit, the largest provider of real estate loans for private homes, auctioned flexible loans with resulting interest rates exceeding 3 percent on the F1, F3 and F5 loan types. That means the interest on these types of mortgages will be at their highest for several years.

According to Finans Danmark, Danish home owners have repaid 337 billion kroner of their mortgages in the first three quarters of 2022. Many of these home owners have chosen to switch to variable interest rates. You can swap back to a fixed-rate mortgage at any time but you also have to be aware that these rates may have increased by then too. 

How do I decide which option to take?

“I always say to people, feel free to go to your bank, ask them to make the calculations for you, so you have the foundation to make a decision”, Jayaswal says.

“Some might think a 30-year mortgage at a fixed rate of one percent is great, especially because today interest rate is five percent. Others won’t mind paying a five percent interest rate for a few years, because they want to reduce their debt today and believe interest rates will decrease. It is up to the borrower to decide.

“It’s not that one option is better than the other, it’s that you have opportunities and this is unique in Denmark,” Jayaswal said.

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