Julia (25) leads a healthy life. That means she cooks at home, follows a vegetarian diet, takes extra vitamins and exercises four times a week. She currently has no commitments at the university. Because she already has a higher professional education (HBO) diploma in HR, she is exempt from her elective course in the final year of her Bachelor’s programme in Psychology. Now she uses the time when she would normally be studying to learn more about health, nutrition and the nervous system.

Julie knows exactly how much a healthy lifestyle costs. Every month, she spends between €200 and €250 on groceries. Her vitamins cost €40 per month and a gym membership is €35. In November, she tracked all her expenses in an Excel file. “Every cost item is there, even birthdays. I keep all my receipts and write down everything I spend. That way, I know exactly how much money I’m spending each month.”

Living costs money

She recently had to leave her flat in Capelle aan de IJsel. The statutory two-year temporary rental period was over, so Julie had to find something new. Now she lives on the other side of the city, in a renovated flat in Overschie. The flat is completely gas-free, with four solar panels. She found it for rent on the social housing market. Forty homes became available, and whoever responded first would get a flat. “I replied within seconds and was number eight.”

“Moving costs money”, Julie says. That’s why she borrowed extra money from DUO. “My last place was smaller than this, so there’s more space to fill. And I had to buy a new refrigerator and my own oven.”

She lives in the flat with her boyfriend. They share the costs and are entitled to a housing benefit. Together, they spend around €630 per month on housing. “We hardly had any electricity costs in the summer, but now that it isn’t as sunny, we’re paying more again.”

DUO helps in the future

Before Julie started living on her own, she borrowed some money from DUO. On her father’s recommendation, this allowed her to save money for a house or other future expenses. Since becoming self-sufficient over two years ago, she now covers her monthly expenses using the money in her savings account.

Julie is currently recovering from whiplash, which means she is temporarily unable to work. As a result, she’s had to go without the €200 she previously earned providing childcare. She now borrows €500 per month from DUO. Her mother gives her €25 every week for groceries, and she gets €50 per month from her boyfriend’s parents. “It’s a shame that my generation didn’t get student grants. If I were to start my studies now, I wouldn’t have any student loan debt. I could live off the grants. I sign petitions against this system, but I don’t take part in any activism. I try not to worry too much about my debt.”

Saving money

According to the Excel spreadsheet, Julie spends €820 per month. She doesn’t budget for holidays. If she wants to take a holiday, she borrows money from DUO. In the meantime, she pays attention to the little things. For example, Julie makes her own laundry detergent using a bit of soap, baking soda and water. “Making your own cleaning products is good for the environment and much cheaper than buying detergent from the supermarket. I love creative projects.”

She often meets with friends at their homes. “I think it’s a waste to pay €3 for a cup of tea at a restaurant or café, no matter how nice it is.” After this academic year, Julie will have her Bachelor’s degree, at which point she wants to start working full time. “I can’t wait until I start making my own money. I don’t need to earn a lot, but I think it would be nice not to worry so much about how expensive life is. Then I’ll be able to take my family out to dinner at some point.”

Income: €150 from her parents (in law) and €500 loan from DUO

Rent & utilities: €400 per month

Groceries: between €200 and €250 per month

Eating out/going out: €100 per month, ‘for birthdays and drinks’.

Worst purchase: “I always think very carefully before I spend money. But I have a lot of plants. The plants I don’t have room for are sitting by the window in the communal stairwell.”

Last major expense: “An air purifier that cost €350. The air quality in Overschie isn’t very good.”

Saving for: “I’m not saving at the moment.”

Absolutely does not want to cut back on: Food.

Valeriya Minaeva blockchain lisboa (4) own photo

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