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Vox pop — »It does not help that they increased the earnings ceiling«. Three students talk about how price increases have affected their finances.
In the past six months we have seen the highest inflation since 1983. In July, consumer prices were 8.7 per cent up compared to last year.
The Danish government and a number of supporting parties have passed a financial package to help the groups in society who have been most affected. This includes financial support for the elderly, a lump sum of DKK 2,000 for some social welfare recipients, and a reduction in electricity taxes.
Students with functional impairments and single parents on the Danish SU student grant can look forward to a DKK 2,000 lump sum. And all SU student grant recipients get a higher earnings ceiling, which is the total they may earn in salary without having their grant deducted. This means that you can now earn around DKK 17,000 a month next to a Danish student grant instead of the approximately DKK 13,000.
But how does inflation affect students in their practical daily life? The University Post talked to three students about how the price increases have affected their finances.
»It’s the food prices that I’ve noticed the most. I’m a vegan and before inflation hit I used to eat a lot more substitutes for meat, and cheese. Now I eat a lot of bulgur with other vegetables instead, because it’s cheaper.
I have noticed my debit card is being declined more often than it used to, even though I buy more or less the same things. Then I have to transfer from my savings account. This is new. Until recently, I could stay within the SU study grant, but I can not do this any longer. I don’t find it embarrassing to have my card rejected. Paying so much to live in Copenhagen and live on an SU student grant, then this is no big deal.
Increasing the ceiling allowing us to earn more next to the grant, does not help at all
Student Siri Stenstrup
I have five student jobs. I work in a nursery, at the Planetarium, in an Irma supermarket, as a student instructor at UCPH, and I am a crochetor for a hat designer. But I only work on holidays or during the short periods of time when I am not completely floored by my study programme. I put this salary aside, so I have a little extra to live off during the semester.
I have not really looked into how inflation affects different groups in society. That’s why I don’t know whether students are the ones who most need help. But I haven’t heard the politicians mention the students at all.
Increasing the ceiling allowing us to earn more next to the grant, does not help at all. I only know a couple of people who have even approached this earnings ceiling. No one at my study programme has had the time to work so much that they could earn DKK 17,000 in addition to their study programme obligations. I’m happy when I have the time to earn DKK 2,000.«
»I have no fixed budget, but I don’t spend a lot of money either. At the Mathematics department, we usually say that mathematicians can’t work with any numbers larger than two. It’s a bit of a math joke because we almost exclusively work algebraically. It is all letters of the alphabet, not numbers.
Butter has got more expensive, so I only buy it on offer. At home, the freezer is full of butter on offer so that I avoid having to pay too much. I can easily see that most foods have become more expensive, but I can handle it.
The other day I made eight glasses of marmelade, which cost just under DKK 100
Student Bjørk Jakobsen
I have about DKK 1,000 left every month once the rent has been paid. We are a few of us that live together and take turns cooking. And I’m in charge of the food twice a week. I usually get by with about DKK 150 a week, including breakfast and lunch. This food budget usually has a DKK 400 surplus, which is fine. I do not go to parties, I do not have a subscription to a fitness centre, and I wear down my clothes before I buy new ones. I am just not a big spender in general.
I don’t see it as a minimalist lifestyle. If I want something, I’ll buy it. But I always look at the price. I don’t want to cook expensive meals if I can do something cheaper that tastes just as good.
I can understand that not everyone wants to live like I do. I’m just lucky that my hobbies, and how I live, fits into a cheap lifestyle. Cooking from scratch, for example. The other day I made eight glasses of marmelade, which cost just under DKK 100. This is much cheaper than in the supermarket. I also read a lot of books where I just use the library.«
»I have just moved from an apartment where my electricity bill had increased by DKK 200-300, so I have noticed that prices have increased. I generally have less money, even though I buy the same things and live in the same way as I did before.
In Iceland, the student grant is a student loan, but you can also get a Danish grant if you work a certain number of hours a week. I just don’t work enough next to my studies, so I have the Icelandic student loan and my student job as a church singer in Hvidovre.
I don’t have a budget. Instead I live like I would like to live at the beginning of the month, and at the end of the month I live the way I have to. It may sound a bit silly, but I’ve never really been able to set out a budget.
My Danish friends are the same. We have talked a lot about price increases, and they are quite stressed about it, and concerned about how much it will continue to increase. We already live cheaply, and I have cut down on meat myself because it has increased a lot. I only buy meat that is discounted for the last date of sale.
I only buy meat that is discounted for the last date of sale
It’s easy to say that students need help at a time like this, but I don’t know whether we are those that are hit the hardest. Or how this will affect the rest of society. It would be great if we received some kind of support, because we are a vulnerable group, but I also believe that there are many other groups in society who are hit even harder financially. In a situation like this, you have to show a bit of solidarity.
I have just heard that they have raised the ceiling for how much you are allowed to earn alongside your student grant. In the beginning I thought this sounded like a great idea. But then I found out how much you need to earn in order to hit this ceiling. It’s a very small group that is going get anything out of it, and the few students who do earn this amount are probably not that troubled by the price increases.«