The parsimonious guide to expenses in Delft

Master’s student Vishal Onkhar has a strong desire to eliminate unnecessary spending and presents a list of tips on how to save money in Delft.

I have a saying that I often like to tell people, “The only running I do is running out of money”. As a master’s student, I’m sure you’re all quite familiar with the feeling. You open your wallet to pay for drinks at a pub and only a moth flutters out. A thief breaks into your house and so you help him look for money. That sort of thing. It’s almost a given that you’re broke for most part of the year and if you’re an international student on an education loan, that’s just the cherry on the cake.

Fret not, however, for I have compiled a list of tips, for lack of a better word, on how to slice and dice your bills and pinch those pennies at every corner. This was born out of a deep desire to eliminate unnecessary spending and some handy observations made during my short time in the Netherlands so far. Hopefully, these will help you sleep a little sounder and make your coin purse feel a little heavier each day. Without further ado, here they are:

  • Bicycle purchase/repair – Without a doubt, the best and cheapest place for sprucing up your trusty (or should I say, rusty?) steed is the Delftse Bike Center. The chaps there are quite the amiable bunch too.
  • Public transport – Prefer a personal OV-chipkaart to an anonymous one because of the discounts that come with the former. Keep an eye out for day tickets, group tickets and season passes depending on how often you travel.
  • Rent – Paying your rent for the year all at once usually entails a substantial discount. Also make sure you avail rental allowance if you’re living alone.
  • Food – Groceries are usually priced the lowest in the Indian/Turkish stores scattered across town. Jumbo is the cheapest for bread, milk, breakfast cereal and tortillas. Albert Heijn is generally the most expensive and Lidl and ALDI lie in between the two. Common medicines are also best bought from supermarkets rather than drugstores. Another good option is the city market on Thursdays and Saturdays where you can buy just about anything at reasonable prices.
  • Haircut – The salon in the Sultan Ahmet mosque in Delft is the most economical at just 8 euros, nearly half the rate charged by other hairdressers and barbers. Otherwise, you could always cut your hair yourself provided you know what you’re doing. I would recommend investing in a cap just in case things don’t work out.
  • Tourism – If you’re like me and take delight in visiting museums, I highly recommend buying a museum card. It’s valid for one year will save you a load of cash by granting you free entry at over 400 museums. Also, as a general rule, buy tickets online or at tourist information stalls instead of at the venue to cut back your expenses by a few euros. Freely available brochures also usually contain offers and discounts which work out quite nicely.
  • Stationery – Don’t bother forking out your money for notebooks and related supplies. The student associations of all departments offer free books and career fairs provide you with pens and tools aplenty. A few trips to IKEA and you’ll even have a good supply of pencils.
  • Home furnishing – If you live in a housing complex, chances are people are doing giveaways or yard sales every so often at throwaway prices. The other alternative is IKEA, which is excellent value for money provided you’re ready to assemble the product yourself.
  • Eating on campus – They say there’s no such thing as a free lunch. However, at TU Delft, it’s entirely possible to schedule several lunch lectures and colloquia for yourself every month. The added advantage is that you get some quality insight into the industry as well. All it takes is looking through the various Dispuut websites and registering for the events. Besides that, the Chinese food truck outside the Aula offers delicious food at moderate rates if you’re patient enough to wait in the long queue.
  • Eating out – Pizza coupons really come in handy when you’re not in the mood to cook. Ordering for multiple people together and availing student offers greatly minimizes the costs per head. Döner is also a similarly viable option.
  • Technology – If your phone or laptop is having issues, you could seek help for free from @HOK in the Architecture department instead of dropping by electronics repair stores. If you’re considering buying a laptop, it would be more prudent to time your purchase from the official website such that the seasonal, limited time and student offers stack.
  • Entertainment – If intending to catch a film at Pathé, go during the weekdays since it’s a lot cheaper. An unlimited subscription also exists for the more avid moviegoers, which is certainly more pocket friendly than paying each time. For music, as much as this sounds obvious, it’s actually not: join Spotify. You’ll be surprised how many people haven’t made use of it yet and continue to purchase or pirate their music.
  • Clothing & Apparel – For clothes, Zeeman and Primark have the best offers and their prices are often a steal. For shoes, Torfs is the best website with some of the most affordable choices.

So, there you have it. Your very own cheatsheet to lopping off a healthy portion of your monthly expenses in Delft. And unlike the ones you prepare for your exam, you’ll actually use this one.

Vishal Onkhar

Vishal Onkhar is from Chennai, India and pursuing his master’s in Vehicle Engineering at TU Delft. He is an avid player of chess and video games, but he also harbours a special interest for reading and writing fantasy fiction. He doesn’t drink coffee but good music and film has the same effect on him.

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