Saving Money in Germany: 20 Essential Tips for Expats

Updated on
July 27, 2023

Relocating to Germany as an expat can be an exciting adventure, but it also comes with its own set of financial challenges. From navigating language school options to managing everyday expenses, saving money becomes a priority. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through essential tips and strategies to help you save money while living in Germany. Whether you are planning a short stay or a long-term residence, these money-saving techniques will pave the way for financial success and a thriving expat life.

1. Mastering the Local Language

As you embark on your new adventure in Germany, one thing becomes evident – learning the local language is essential for a successful integration. Whether you're in Berlin or any other city, finding the right language school is key to your linguistic journey. Look for reputable institutions that offer intensive courses designed specifically for expats. While investing in a high-quality language course might incur some initial expenses, the long-term benefits are invaluable. Not only will it enrich your overall experience, but it will also enhance your career prospects and unlock a world of opportunities.

2. Budgeting: A Key to Financial Stability

Crafting a well-defined budget is essential for any expat looking to save money in Germany. Start by tracking your expenses, understanding your income, and identifying areas where you can cut back. Utilize budgeting apps and tools to stay organized and stick to your financial goals. By creating a realistic budget, you will have a clear overview of your finances and be better equipped to save for your future.

3. Rent Wisely: Housing and Utilities

Housing costs can significantly impact your monthly budget, especially in popular cities like Berlin. While it may be tempting to opt for a trendy city-center apartment, consider exploring options in the suburbs for more affordable rent. Share accommodation with other expats or locals to split the costs. Additionally, be mindful of your utility usage to avoid unnecessary expenses. Turning off lights, managing heating, and being energy-efficient can lead to substantial savings over time.

4. Public Transportation: Efficient and Cost-Effective

Germany boasts a well-developed and efficient public transportation system. Instead of relying on expensive taxis or owning a car, opt for a monthly or annual public transportation pass. Many cities offer discounts for students and seniors, so explore the options available to you. Using public transport not only saves money but also helps reduce your carbon footprint, making it a win-win situation.

5. Health Insurance: Navigating the Options

Health insurance is mandatory in Germany, and as an expat, you must ensure you have the right coverage. Research various health insurance providers to find a plan that suits your needs and budget. Public health insurance is typically more affordable and covers dependents, making it an attractive option for many expats. However, private health insurance may be suitable for those with higher incomes or specific medical requirements. Always compare plans and choose wisely to avoid unnecessary expenses.

6. Save on Groceries: Smart Shopping

One of the significant expenses for any household is groceries. As an expat in Germany, you can save money on groceries by shopping at discount supermarkets like Aldi, Lidl, and Netto. Consider buying in bulk and taking advantage of weekly offers. Local farmers' markets are also great places to find fresh produce at reasonable prices. Furthermore, avoid impulse purchases and stick to your grocery list to prevent overspending.

7. Dining Out: Balance and Enjoyment

Exploring German cuisine and dining out is part of the expat experience. While enjoying local restaurants and cafes, be mindful of your dining expenses. Limit eating out to special occasions and explore cost-effective options like lunch specials or student discounts. Cooking at home and preparing meals in bulk can save you money in the long run while still allowing you to indulge in occasional treats.

8. Entertainment: Embrace Free and Low-Cost Activities

Germany offers a plethora of free or affordable activities for expats to enjoy. From exploring parks, museums, and historical sites to attending cultural events and festivals, there are plenty of ways to have fun without breaking the bank. Join expat communities to discover local meetups, language exchange events, and budget-friendly gatherings. Embrace the rich cultural experiences Germany has to offer without overspending.

Read more on The Top 10 Most Popular Tourist Attractions in Germany

9. Banking and Fees: Choose the Right Account

When it comes to banking in Germany, it's essential to select the right account to avoid unnecessary fees. Research various banks and compare their account options, focusing on accounts with low or no monthly fees. Look for banks that offer free ATM withdrawals within their network or reimburse fees for using ATMs from other banks. Consider online banks, which often have lower fees and offer convenient digital banking services.

Find out more on Opening a German Bank Account For Non-German Citizens

10. Set Financial Goals: Stay Motivated

Setting financial goals is a powerful motivator for saving money as an expat. Whether it's building an emergency fund, saving for a future trip, or investing for retirement, having clear objectives will keep you focused on your financial journey. Break down your goals into smaller, achievable milestones and track your progress regularly. Celebrate each milestone to stay motivated and committed to your savings plan.

11. Energy Efficiency: Lower Utility Bills

Being energy-efficient in your daily life can significantly reduce your utility bills. Invest in energy-saving appliances and LED lighting to cut down on electricity expenses. Make it a habit to turn off lights and appliances when not in use. Consider using a programmable thermostat to regulate heating and cooling in your home efficiently. Simple changes in behavior can lead to substantial savings over time.

12. Embrace Second-Hand Shopping: Thrift Stores and Flea Markets

Germany has a thriving second-hand market, with numerous thrift stores and flea markets offering great bargains. Embrace the culture of sustainable shopping by exploring these options for clothing, furniture, electronics, and more. Not only will you save money, but you'll also contribute to reducing waste and supporting local communities.

13. Utilize Discount Cards and Memberships

Make the most of discount cards and memberships available to expats in Germany. Look for cards that offer reduced prices for public transport, entertainment venues, and cultural attractions. Join local clubs or organizations that offer exclusive discounts and benefits. Many cities also offer tourist cards that grant free or discounted access to various attractions and activities.

14. Avoid High-Risk Financial Decisions

As an expat, it's crucial to be cautious about high-risk financial decisions. Avoid participating in risky investments or financial schemes that promise quick and unrealistic returns. Stick to reputable financial institutions and seek advice from certified financial advisors if needed. Be patient with your investments and focus on long-term growth and stability.

15. Compare Insurance Policies

Insurance is a vital aspect of financial planning, protecting you from unforeseen events. When choosing insurance policies, such as health, home, or liability insurance, compare different providers to find the best coverage at competitive rates. Tailor your policies to your specific needs to avoid overpaying for unnecessary coverage.

16. Public Transportation and Biking: Save on Commuting

Public transportation in Germany is efficient and well-connected, making it an excellent option for daily commuting. Consider getting a monthly or yearly pass, which can save you money compared to buying individual tickets daily. Additionally, many cities in Germany are bike-friendly, and biking can be a cost-effective and eco-friendly alternative for shorter commutes. Invest in a reliable bike and explore the city while saving on transportation costs.

17. Avoid Impulse Buying: Stick to a Shopping List

Impulse buying can quickly derail your budget. Before heading to the grocery store or shopping centers, make a shopping list and stick to it. Avoid making unplanned purchases and be mindful of sales tactics. Ask yourself if the item is a necessity or a luxury, and whether you truly need it. By curbing impulse buying, you'll keep your spending in check and save money for more meaningful expenses.

18. Cooking at Home: Embrace German Cuisine

Eating out can be expensive, so why not embrace German cuisine and cook at home? Explore traditional German recipes and try cooking your favorite dishes. Buying groceries and preparing meals at home is not only cost-effective but also a fun way to immerse yourself in the local culture. Hosting dinner parties with friends and fellow expats can also be an enjoyable way to socialize while saving money.

19. Participate in Free or Low-Cost Activities

Germany offers a wealth of free or low-cost activities for residents to enjoy. Take advantage of public parks, walking tours, and cultural events that are often affordable or even free. Many museums and art galleries offer discounted or free admission on certain days of the week. Explore the city's green spaces, attend community events, and join local clubs to engage in enjoyable activities without breaking the bank.

20. Negotiate Rent and Utilities

When renting a home in Germany, don't be afraid to negotiate the rent and terms with the landlord. While major cities like Frankfurt may have higher rent prices, some flexibility may be possible, especially for long-term leases. Additionally, inquire about utility costs and explore ways to lower them by being energy-efficient and mindful of consumption.

FAQ tips for saving money

How much does the average German save per month?

The average German saves around 10% to 15% of their monthly income.

How much does the average German save per year?

On average, Germans save approximately €5,000 to €10,000 per year, depending on their income and expenses.

Do Germans save a lot of money?

Yes, Germans are known for their strong saving culture and prioritize financial stability.

How can I save money on groceries in Germany?

Shop at discount supermarkets, buy in bulk, and take advantage of weekly offers. Consider shopping at local farmers' markets for fresh produce at reasonable prices.


As an expat in Germany, saving money is not only feasible but also a rewarding journey that can lead to financial security and the ability to pursue your dreams. By following these tips, from enrolling in a language school in Frankfurt to making smart financial choices in daily life, you can optimize your finances and make the most of your experience as an expat in Germany. Embrace the culture, explore affordable activities, and prioritize saving for your future. With a well-structured financial plan and the determination to save, you'll enjoy a fulfilling and financially stable life in this beautiful country.

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