Saving money

10 Tips for Saving Money in Germany

When you add up rent, food, health insurance, university fees, and other expenses, it can sometimes feel like there isn't much left over to enjoy the German lifestyle. However, put that thought out of your mind.

There are plenty of ways to save money when living in Germany. Here are 10 ideas that will make your money go further.

1. Plan Your Meals

Everyone needs to eat as healthily as possible

Thankfully, in Germany that's easily achievable, thanks to markets, supermarkets, and local stores.

However, the way you shop for groceries can dramatically influence how much you pay. Instead of shopping as you go, planning every meal can result in huge savings.

Plan ahead to buy big bags of rice and pasta. Make soups and freeze what you can't eat for later. And make a list every week of what to buy.

Stash of plastic containers

It's really helpful to have a stash of plastic containers to store meals. Takeout containers are ideally sized to store individual meals.

2. Join University - Sports clubs

When subscriptions can amount to €20/month, German gyms are expensive – at least for people on a budget

Despite this, it's still important to stay in shape. So how can you do so without sapping your financial resources?

Students have plenty of great ways to exercise for less. University sports clubs will often charge tiny fees and have their own gyms. They are also great places to make friends and try sports like Ultimate Frisbee or Handball that may not be as popular elsewhere.

3. Second-hand Shops

Sure, it's great to shop in fashionable boutiques and designer furniture studios, but for cash-strapped German residents, that's not necessarily achievable

Fortunately, you can shop for clothes, ornaments, footwear, and even larger furniture at second-hand stores. Kleiderkammer (charity shops) are a great source of bargains.

Many larger towns in Germany host regular Flohmärkte (flea markets), which are crammed with bargains and fascinating places to browse.

4. Go by bike

Cycling is an (almost) cost-free alternative to driving that gets you from A to B

It's enjoyable, and provides excellent exercise - so why stay cramped in an automobile?

In Germany, cycling is massively popular. Some estimates suggest that there are 43,000 miles of cycling paths.

Bike share

You don't even need to buy bikes to get on the road. Bike share schemes like nextbike are common in Germany, allowing you to pick up a bike as and when you need it.

5. Working part-time

While it's not exactly a money-saving tip, there's no doubt that working part-time can make your living costs seem a lot more manageable

Have a look at our guide to working as a student for more information, as there are some regulations to note down.

When you've done that, enquire at student services or make an appointment at the local Bundesagentur für Arbeit to find out what's available.

Mini Jobs

Most importantly, Germans pay no tax on "mini jobs", which pay up to 450 € per month but still come with all standard working rights.

6. Sharing is caring

Life is cheaper when it's shared, so why not team up with friends to share the cost of living?

This kind of arrangement is totally routine in Germany, where it is usually referred to as WG (or Wohngemeinschaft). In a WG, flatmates team up to sign tenancy agreements, saving €100-200 each in many cases.

There is a thriving community of people looking for flatmates. So make use of online portals like WG-Gesucht to find rental partners.

7. Explore free leisure activities

In Germany, leisure doesn't have to cost the earth

In fact, some of the most memorable experiences are completely free.

For instance, it costs nothing to walk or cycle along the Rhine, read a book in Munich's English Garden, or to relax with friends at Berlin's Tempelhofer Field.

If you're at a loose end, head to local parks for pick-up games of football or frisbee. Germans will usually be happy to welcome new players.

8. Use the ‘ Aktionstage’

Some days on the German calendar offer better value than others

Dubbed Aktionstage (Action Days), these occasions feature a host of discounts, across a wide range of activities.

For instance, May 19 is International Museum Day, and museums across Germany open their doors for free in classic Aktionstage fashion.

Cinema

Almost every cinema will have a Kinotag, where admission prices drop to €5-6. Always check to see if your local screen is offering a discount before booking seats.

9. Watch out for a “Fairteiler” in your neighborhood

Germans are obsessed with fairness, and this extends to food prices

That's why recent years have seen the emergence of the Fairteiler movement.

Literally "fair sharers", Fairteilers take donated food and provide it at highly subsidized prices to whoever needs it. They may also take unsold food from supermarkets that would otherwise go to waste.

Finding the nearest Fairteiler isn't hard. Just use the food sharing website to call up maps of outlets across Germany.

10. Upcycling

Sometimes, we can help ourselves get more from our possessions

For example, how often do you throw away items that could be repaired or used for something else? Known as upcycling, this approach is common in Germany, where people hate unnecessarily adding to the world's trash mountain.

If you are near Berlin and need some inspiration, head to Upcycling Deluxe to find out how ordinary items can be preserved or enhanced. Almost all major cities will have similar eco-friendly boutiques.

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