9 Money-Saving Tips From German Experts on Cost-Effective Living
Everyone’s heard of German people’s passion for saving money. Residents of that country put a decent portion of their income aside and rarely invest in dubious enterprises. Even a million-dollar lottery win won’t result in wanton shopping sprees, new expensive cars, and more. Perhaps all of us can learn a thing or 2 from this approach.
We at Bright Side are always on the lookout for life hacks that can be of use to our readers. Here are some cool financial strategies that can keep your bank balance in good shape.
Say no to shopping sprees and chasing after the newest products.
The Germans have long established themselves as a thrifty nation. For example, they tend to wear jeans, sweaters, and other items of clothing as carefully as possible so that all of it can be sold, exchanged, or at least given away to someone later on.
In addition to the standard secondhand stores, there are many German sites where you can exchange things or buy items for a small price. Even wealthy people do this from time to time — they buy something used instead of brand new stuff. It adds good points to your karma in terms of caring for the environment.
There’s nothing shameful in taking full advantage of discounts.
Germans love taking advantage of various promo specials when buying products. During the discount season, residents of this country stock up on things in bulk. As they hunt for bargains, many people even visit shops located in other cities (provided that the benefit outweighs the travel expenses).
- “In any German supermarket, you can see customers take particular interest in discounted goods. Last week, my German friend bought 5 or 6 packs of half-price coffee and just as many cereal boxes. I should mention that this person can easily afford far more expensive purchases. So yes, people actually pride themselves on finding good bargains!”
There’s a DIY solution for everything.
Reluctant to spend money on the services of craftsmen, the Germans prefer to do everything around the house themselves. This includes washing the car and fixing broken faucets — not to mention taking a DIY approach to manicures and pedicures. In case you lack some necessary skills, you can visit a repair cafe (a combination of a cafe and a workshop), where they’ll show you how to fix your favorite thing (but again, you’ll have to do everything yourself).
- “I’ve twice repaired my relatively old cell phone in such a cafe (instead of buying a new one). I love this phone, and I don’t want to create garbage or cause harm to the environment. Besides, I’m not a fan of mastering new gadgets!” © sendmeursmile / reddit
Don’t forget about saving on everyday things.
To save on rather expensive utilities, the Germans have adopted a whole range of useful habits. For instance, to reduce electricity bills, they buy energy-saving light bulbs and appliances. Plus, gadgets are always disconnected from the socket when not in use. For the purposes of saving water, some housewives wash dishes in water collected in the sink and use rainwater for tending plants. And, of course, there’s the heating — the Germans would rather wrap themselves in blankets and put on sweaters and thermal underwear than turn on the radiators or heaters to full power!
- “In my school days, I spent some time in Germany. I was 14 and socialized a lot with the locals in order to learn the language. I befriended a German girl, Kaya, who was from a fairly well-off family. One winter evening, I stayed at her place for a sleepover. Before going to bed, Kaya put on a T-shirt, flannel pajamas, and socks. Then, on top of that, she donned another pair of synthetic socks, covered the bed with an extra blanket, put a hot water bottle between the sheets — and turned off the room heater! I asked, ’Why do all this? Can’t you simply leave the heating on?’ She replied, ’What for? This works just as well!’ And that was when I realized that we were from very, very different cultures indeed.” © daschutka / Pikabu
The perks of being a student
The holder of a student ID card in Germany is entitled to a lot more than public transport discounts. Being a student also lets you save money on cinema and museum tickets and gives you access to great bargains when buying cell phones and Internet connection. Additionally, some hair salons and car rental companies offer reductions for students.
Attending a university also helps people maintain a healthy lifestyle. German universities offer a wide variety of additional courses, from yoga to horse riding, completely free of charge or for a small fee!
Home accounting and careful planning are held in high esteem from early childhood.
We all know that one should keep within a budget or a carefully laid-out plan when it comes to expenses. Well, the Germans actually follow this rule. Notebooks and tables for home accounting (in paper or electronic form) are present in every household. A shopping list is a must during visits to supermarkets since this simple thing can make a huge difference. Nowadays, you don’t even have to use paper — just open an app on your phone! And most importantly, the Germans learn to value money from an early age. In this country, almost every child is a proud owner of a well-stocked piggy bank.
You can share/exchange many things besides clothes.
On German food-sharing portals, you can find a lot of products that are still perfectly edible but got discarded as superfluous or because of some minor drawbacks in their appearance. There’s also a special site that lists places where you can pick all kinds of fruits and berries, free of charge.
“Most of the food that my family eats daily comes from the ’garbage.’ That is, we’re talking the products deemed unfit for sale. It’s crazy how much good food ends up in landfills for no reason at all! This stuff can be obtained directly from supermarkets, bakeries, markets, and restaurants. 2 weeks ago, I collected 22 lb of bread from a bakery, free of charge. I made a lot of breadcrumbs, put some of the bread in the freezer, and used the rest for preparing various dishes. And yesterday, I came home with 9 bags of discarded raspberries and 4 ready-made jars of marmalade!” © sunny-mcpharrell / reddit
Even empty bottles can be of use to a family budget.
In Germany, it’s common to hand over empty bottles for recycling in exchange for a small payment. This practice is truly ubiquitous — most supermarkets have special machines for discarding different types of bottles. Naturally, this isn’t just about saving money, but also about preserving the environment.
- “For almost any German person, shopping for food begins with getting rid of empty bottles. Each food store has machines that accept bottles of different sizes. A plastic one of any volume earns you 25 cents; a tin can also gets you 25 cents; and a glass bottle, 8 cents. There are small variations, but the price list generally goes like this. I should also mention that when you buy beverages, you also pay a kind of bottle-renting fee. And then, when you hand over the empty bottles, you get this deposit back.” © Fatalityme / Pikabu
In German homes, guests shouldn’t expect lavish treats.
When a German person invites you to their home for a cup of coffee or tea, this offer should be taken literally. Guests shouldn’t expect to be served any extras (such as cakes, cookies, sandwiches, etc). However, you’re free to bring your own desserts or snacks with you!
- “I remember my first trip to Germany to visit a friend. Everything felt like a new, unusual world to me. When neighbors invited us for tea, I was full of anticipation, imagining a table stacked with traditional German delicacies. On the way, we bought small cakes — 2 for me and 2 for my friend. Believe it or not, throughout the evening at our hosts’ expensive house, the only treats I got to taste were those 2 cakes!”
What’s your opinion on these life hacks from Germany? Share your thoughts in the comments!