It is often necessary to take a closer look at your spending habits and lifestyle if you want to save money. While still living the same lifestyle, can you actually save money while living in Germany?
No, we ain’t asking you to give up dining out, or Friday night outs, nor are we asking you to reduce your shopping habits. You can still save money without sacrificing any of these.
Rethink about your insurances
On your very first days in Germany, you should’ve noticed, there's insurance for basically everything in Germany. Most landlords would want you to have house insurance before you can rent an apartment in Germany.
Even though securing a potential future risk is a good idea, you perhaps need to rethink about the policies you’ve bought. Think about whether your financial stability can withstand the costs resulting from an accident, damage, or theft.
For instance, my house insurance covers any damage caused to my kitchen appliances, whether the damage is caused by me, someone else outside the family, or by natural calamities. Therefore, I do not need the individual insurance offered by the seller when buying the refrigerator and can save that money.
It's only an example. Find out if you need insurance for your phone, laptop, or television, or you can afford the cost if they are broken or stolen away.
You can also check if there are other providers who provide similar insurance at a cheaper cost. Check24 provides comparisons to different insurance providers in Germany.
Additionally, there are good insurance providers like Feather insurance who provide insurance specialized for expats. Since their products are mainly focused on expats, their website as well as customer support is fully in English.
Get rid of Church Tax if that’s not important to you
Every employee in Germany who is a member of a church is supposed to pay church. The amount deducted depends on the location they live. Germany's church taxes are deducted directly from the salary just like the income tax. You will find the relevant information on your salary slip.
The process of unregistering from Church Tax varies state to state. Therefore, enquire with your local citizen’s office how you can get rid of the church tax.
Consider Flea Markets and eBay Kleinanzeigen over Amazon
When you plan to buy something new, just take a moment to search eBay Kleinanzeigen for the item you are planning to by just to see if a used item is available for a cheaper price. Often, people sell good quality items on eBay Kleinanzeigen for a much cheaper price compared to Amazon.
You don't need to be sheepish to buy a second hand item. If it is not hurting your bank, it's a good thing.
Alternatively, you can also check Flea Markets in the town you live in. Most towns in Germany have a Flea Market mostly on a particular day in a week at a common spot and people bring things from their home and sell at unbelievably cheap prices. I have a friend who often buys from Flea Markets and cracks great deals without even negotiating with the seller.
You may also find antique objects and rare pieces of art from very old times in a Flea Market.
Save on daily shopping
The variety of supermarkets in Germany should be familiar to anyone who has lived in the country for a while.
You should have already noticed the differences in the product pricing if you had already visited a few. Many supermarkets sell popular items in their own label. Interestingly the prices for those items would vary greatly between different stores. For instance, both DM (drogerie markt) and Alnatura produce purees for babies. While DM prices it around 1€, Alnatura’s price is around 2.5€.
Another way to save on daily shopping in Germany is by using the Amex Payback card. The Payback program is a loyalty program that allows you to collect points when you make purchases at participating retailers, including supermarkets, gas stations, and online stores. By linking your Payback account to your Amex card, you can earn additional points when you use your card to make purchases. These points can then be redeemed for discounts or cashback on future purchases. In addition, the Amex Payback card often offers exclusive discounts and promotions to cardholders, allowing you to save even more on your daily shopping.
Check if your bank charges you monthly for account maintenance
Traditional banks may charge you an account maintenance fee for your savings account. If you wish to have a separate savings account to keep your monthly savings, choose a bank account that doesn't charge you for account maintenance.
N26, Germany’s most popular digital bank, offers free savings bank accounts for almost all nationalities.
Although N26 is new generation and fully digital, sometimes the transfers from or to N26 takes upto 4 working days. Therefore, choosing an e-money institution like Wise or Revolut is a much better option.
Wise is a widely popular multi currency money transfer service with record transfer time and great reviews. With Wise, you can hold and convert money in 50+ currencies. It only takes a few seconds to open a new account in the currency you need. Additionally, You can use the money in your multi-currency account to send to around 80 countries; all with just one account!
The most attractive feature about wise is, it’s completely free! No subscription required.
Revolut on the other hand is also an e-money institution for business customers. They intend to offer banking services to EEA customers in the near future, as well as seek banking licenses in many of the other regions where they operate.
Filing your taxes yearly can give you unexpected returns
In Germany, employees without additional side income are not required to pay taxes.
If you knew, the average tax returns in Germany are typically around 1000 euros. Therefore, we recommend you calculate whether you can save money by filing tax yearly.
There are several apps that offer free tax return calculation in Germany and help you file and get your tax return. Some of them are,
SteuerGo is one of the easiest options to file your annual tax return online. Whether income tax, capital gains or childcare costs, SteuerGo is a good choice. They help to secure overpaid income taxes.
It is easy to enter your data with SteuerGo since it provides everything you need to get it done correctly and securely. With their online form, you can get started right away and keep track of everything, from personal information to useful tax tips.
SteuerGo checks all data automatically for accuracy and plausibility. Then you can securely submit your tax return to the tax office. Additionally, SteuerGo allows you to check the subsequent tax assessment notice from the tax office.
TaxFix is one of the popular income tax calculation and filing services in Germany. The app offers to complete your tax return in just a couple of minutes using the simple question-and-answer procedure.
The highlight of Taxfix among other applications is that they offer you the opportunity to have 50% of your calculated tax refund in your account the next day . So you can get your money in your bank account early.
Lohnsteuer-kompakt is a web based income tax calculation and return filing service. Therefore you don't need to install software on your PC or phone. It works platform-independent on any computer, tablet or smartphone. With Lohnsteuer-kompakt, you can either submit your tax return online or print out the completed tax forms. You have the possibility to see how each item affects your tax refund Immediately after each entry.
Steuererklaerung-Student.de helps students create their annual tax return online. You can document and offset all study costs even without income, as soon as taxes are paid.
They claim to help to secure overpaid income taxes.
Steuererklaerung-Student.de offers everything you need to enter your details correctly and securely and calculate your refund live. Steuererklaerung-Student.de checks all information automatically for correctness . Then you can send your tax return securely to the tax office and then check the tax assessment.
Additionally, you may get an unexpected amount back when you file your taxes. Some years ago, I got back a couple of thousands of euros by filing a tax return!
Public transport in Germany has a wide acceptance due to its high efficiency, punctuality, reliability and affordability.
In 2022, the government has decided to experiment with a reduced 9€ ticket on public transport valid across Germany on all public transport mediums for Jun, July and August. Followed by the huge success of Germany’s 9€ ticket, there are plans to introduce cheaper tickets in the coming months.
Even if you own a car, get a monthly ticket for public transport and use the car only for unavoidable situations. Therefore, you save on fuel, parking and potential maintenance.
Additionally, most employers in Germany provide monthly public transport rebates. For instance, my company provides almost 50% offer on monthly tickets on public transport. Therefore, check if your employer has any such offers.
Alternatively, switch to cycling if that's an option for you. Small trips, such as going to the supermarket, fitness, and trips covering short distances, can be done on a bike. It is both cost effective as well as healthy.
Lucky Bikes, one of the popular bicycle sellers in Germany, has often provided great offers for bicycles. They also offer a wide range of bikes in their online shop.
Internet, electricity and heating costs
If you have a high speed internet connection at a large monthly cost, check if you really need a connection that fast whether there is another provider who charges less for the same speed.
For instance, Vodafone has plans for 1 GB/s and the first 6 months, the connection is totally free and they only charge from the 7th month.
Similarly, Telekom, a major player in the telecom and internet industry in Germany also has low cost and fairly high return plans. Their 500 Mb/s plan is free for the first 6months and 20€ from the seventh month.
Maybe M-Net is a great deal for you if you live in Bavaria. They have plans that have 600 Mb/s download speed for 15€. Like the other providers, they also give it for free for the first six months and you will only be charged from the seventh month.
Likewise, check how much your electricity provider charges you. In general, many providers can give you an attractive and much cheaper plan than the default electricity provider in your building.
For instance, the default electricity provider in my building charged me over 40€ per month. However, I moved to Eprimo Green Electricity for 26€ per month and saved almost 20€.
Eprimo promotes certified green electricity in Germany at a cheap and very uncomplicated procedure.
Eprimo's 81 kWp solar system produces around 68,000 kWh of electricity per year. As per Eprimo, some days in summer there’s a power requirement of up to 150 kW. They cover a good 50% of this with their solar system. With their battery storage, they manage to store the excess energy in order to be able to charge their electric company cars.
As far as we know, Ostrom is the only provider that offers expat friendly English speaking customer service in Germany. In addition, their website as well as the iOS application is also available in English.
Moreover, Ostrom offers only one plan based on 100% green energy with the possibility to cancel anytime.
Finally, the ideas just don't stop with these. If you find some time analyzing your bank statements, you’ll still find many things you can either find an alternative or put an end to it. For instance, my internet bill was 79€ until mid 2022 and I was shocked when I realized it. I then went to my internet provider’s outlet and found out that I was paying for their digital TV service even though I have never used it. The plan also had an increased speed of 1 GB/s. I immediately requested for a cancellation of the TV service and reduced the speed to 150 Mb/s and my bill came down to 29€.
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