Students have a reputation for being short of cash, but this doesn’t have to be your reality! You might be a new student looking to spend your money wisely before planning the big move to Berlin or Hamburg. Or, you might be a current student finding yourself in a tricky situation money-wise because you want to spend your last euros on that really nice guitar. Whichever camp you fall into, we’ve got nine excellent money-saving tips for you!
1. Choose the right bank account
You might already have a bank account or want to open one for the first time before starting your studies and moving to a new city. In Germany, a couple of banks charge you administrative fees for account maintenance, so you may want to open a bank account with no maintenance fee or at least a very low one. Otherwise, you are just paying an extra amount of money each month only for maintenance. It is useful to compare various bank accounts to see which is the best one that works for you. Check24 is a valuable platform to compare multiple bank accounts that are specifically great for students.
Additionally, it is worth being aware that some banks in Germany charge an ATM withdrawal fee if you do not bank with them. Like DKB or N26, some providers offer current accounts that do not charge a fee – or provide a limited number of free withdrawals – for ATM use in Germany or when abroad, which may be useful to you.
2. Keep on top of your finances and make a budget
The best way to avoid any anxiety over your finances is to keep track of what you will spend and how much you have spent. Instead of letting bills pile up, make a list of payments that you will make each month and write down how much you plan to spend on food, travel, phone bill, rent, electricity, gas, etc. This way, you know exactly how much money you need to set aside for essentials, and how much will be left to spend on non-essential purchases or in your free time.
At the end of each month, you can review your payments and think about if you have spent your money effectively. Keeping your expenses organised will make you less stressed and worried and is excellent practice if you plan to be self-employed in the future.
Another tip might also be to withdraw the money that you have got extra for that month to see how much you have left. This way, you will adapt to the “once it’s gone, it’s gone mindset” that is sometimes easy to forget when only using your card. Luckily in Germany, paying with cash is still very common with many small businesses taking cash-only payments.
3. Write your tuition fees off against your taxes
Did you know you can write off your tuition fees and expenses regarding your studies against your taxes in Germany? Deducting this from your taxes will not immediately save you money, but you can get a part of the costs back. Not only can you write off your tuition fees but also some of the expenses you spend on travelling between your accommodation and university or work, study materials, costs for your laptop, phone, or printer, and even moving to a new place for university. Pretty cool, right? You can find more information on how to deduct this here.
4. Find a job as a working student
Why not start a job as a working student in your favourite career field to enrich your study experience? This way, you gain valuable work experience that will look good on your CV and to future employers. Plus, you can also earn money to support your life in the city. Having a job as a student allows you to work part-time to have enough time to dedicate to your studies.
Did you know that during the semester break, students in Germany are allowed to work full-time? You can ask your employer if you can increase your hours during this time, which will enable you to earn more money.
If you are an international student, it is essential to ensure you have a right-to-work visa alongside your student visa. It’s also worth considering that the number of hours you can work during your studies may be limited. Find out more information here.
5. Save social insurance costs
Another cool thing that comes with having a job in Germany is that you don’t have the added cost of paying for your social insurance. If you have a contract as a working student (Werkstudentenvertrag), you can only work a maximum of 20 hours per week. However, you won’t have to pay for unemployment insurance (Arbeitslosenversicherung) and must only pay a co-payment of 80 Euros per month for health insurance (Krankenversicherung) and nursing care insurance (Pflegeversicherung).
Even better news: if you have a contract for a mini-job (a different working model than the one as a working student), you can earn up to 450 Euros a month and are free from all insurance costs!
6. Save money on travel
If you are travelling around your city and want to explore more of Germany or travel internationally by train, then it might be worth looking into buying a BahnCard. This will save you money and give you a discount when booking a train with Deutsche Bahn. Students in Germany receive a discount on the BahnCard, and there are different variations available (25% and 50% off; and 1st or 2nd class), and you can choose the one that works best for you. If you travel often, you’ll find the BahnCard very useful and save more money if you travel frequently!
A great way of travelling around your city is also by car sharing. Let’s say you’re moving to a new flat and don’t want to carry your boxes on the U-Bahn or public transport; there are services like SHARE NOW (also known as DriveNow) and MILES that allow you to rent a car easily wherever you are in the city.
You can rent these cars for just a few hours at a low rate. It will be a lot cheaper than renting a car at the classic car rental for an entire day. This is specifically great for driving home the new IKEA furniture you just bought!
7. Pay your rent and bills on time
It’s a good tip to always pay your rent and bills on time – not only for your own peace of mind but also to leave a good impression on your landlord. It’s always best to be on good terms with your landlord, and if he or she knows that you consistently pay your rent on time, they might write you an excellent reference that can enhance your chances when trying to find the next flat.
Paying your bills on time is also super important! If you’re not paying your bills properly, you might risk a negative item on your credit report (Schufa-Eintrag). When you look for another apartment, landlords will request a copy of your credit report (Schufa). That’s why it’s best not to have any negative entries, as landlords might get suspicious of you not being able to pay your rent. But don’t worry – paying your bills a little late every now and then won’t risk a negative Schufa. This only happens if you have ignored various payment requests.
8. Make use of student discounts
As a student, you don’t want to miss out on all the great discounts! Not only are you eligible for student discounts most of the time on your favourite online shops but also when visiting museums, galleries, theatres, gyms, travel cards, etc. Most of the time, to get a student discount, you will be asked to show your student ID.
As a BIMM Institute student, you can subscribe to online student discount providers using your BIMM student email account, which will be set up after enrolment at the beginning of your studies. One of these is UNiDAYS, and you can check out the discounts available here.
9. Use your support teams
Every BIMM Institute college has a dedicated Student Support team, whose job is to make sure your student experience is as enjoyable and productive as possible. If you’re experiencing money troubles (or any other issues), be sure to take advantage of this incredibly valuable resource for confidential advice.