The top money-making hacks for students in Germany

Covering expenses can be hard. From that delicious piece of cake to hefty concert tickets, each buy can have a big impact when you’re on a budget. But there are many ways to make a little extra cash in Germany without offending the limitations of your student visa. Here are some ways how.

The top money-making hacks for students in Germany
When each weekend is a party, every penny counts. Photo: DPA

Get a HiWi job

The word Hiwi comes from Hilfswilliger or voluntary assistant. It was predominantly used during World War II to refer to citizens from Soviet countries, who volunteered to help the Nazis in Germany.

Today, it is more commonly used to designate Wissenschaftliche Hilfskraft – luckily nowadays it simply means a research assistant. The standard pay scale is €10 per hour for students with a Bachelor’s degree and €15 with a Master’s.

The work involves assisting in research, teaching, or administrative activities. A lab may need help maintaining its fly stock, creating databases or constructing parts of experimental equipment.

The university website is often a good place to scout around for such offers or, look at the Stellenwerk website for your city which advertises jobs for students. The Bundesagentur für Arbeit (job centre) is also willing to help you in your job search.

Bartend, shop-assist, serve ice cream – grab your favourite Minijob!

Any city flourishing with shops, cafes and bakeries has a lot of ‘minijobs’  to offer. With 20 to 40 hours of work per month, you can sustain a steady flow of independent income. As long as the earnings remain at or below €450 per month, there is no need to declare your income to the tax department.

Beyond the service industry, both private households and universities offer minijobs. For instance, families might seek a private English teacher for their son or require help with housekeeping tasks.

A university, on the other hand, is always looking to reorganize the library and to find a helping hand with the management of conferences. If you are a fitness enthusiast, ask what your local gym has to offer.  

The fact that students might try to bag two minijobs has not evaded the German government. However, it is allowed – as long as the overall income does not exceed the limit of €450.

A vendor scoops ice cream at the beginning of summer in Berlin. Photo: DPA

Become a babysitter

A lot of German families are interested in raising their children in a multilingual environment and are happy to deliver this early exposure to the child via an English-speaking babysitter. As a beginner, babysitting may pay between €8 to €10 per hour per child. With additional training and knowledge of safety aid, this amount can stretch up to €15.

The best way to find a friendly family is through friends and other acquaintances. Do understand that there may be cultural differences to embrace. Being straightforward, punctual and respectful will take you through it successfully. Ask as many questions as possible!

Freelance as a writer

Do you have a flair for putting pen to paper? Consider writing for a news outlet to bag that extra cash. A 1000-word piece contributed as a freelancer can fetch up to €50-€150.

As you establish yourself as a writer, the pay gets better. It often involves stories on travel, lifestyle, culture or science, and there are many English-based outlets – including The Local – that pay for good content.  LinkedIn is a good place to find such gigs.  

There is also a huge range of other writing jobs. Through websites that connect freelancers to recruiters, you can even develop a new skill set on the side in translating, copywriting, proofreading, or even writing code. For these purposes, check out Upwork and Fiverr.

Become a 'lab rat'

As a student in a university, you are surrounded by other young graduates conducting experiments in psychology and economics, imaging brains, volunteering for hand-eye coordination tasks etc. These experiments may pay as little as €7 per hour to a decent €10 – and if you’re lucky, might fetch you €50 for three hours of playing video games.

Overall, participating in university experiments poses no danger to your health. These studies undergo extensive evaluation before they are allowed to occur.

If you are worried about it though, communicate openly with the student leading the experiment, or speak to university management.

Donate that healthy plasma

Everyone has heard of blood donation but fewer are familiar with another much-needed liquid: plasma!

Plasma is the liquid portion of blood leftover, when all the blood cells have been separated from it. In its 90% water composition, it retains important electrolytes, enzymes, amino acids and vitamins that help in the recuperation of burn, trauma and cancer victims.

A man donates plasma in Frankfurt (Oder). Photo: DPA

One full donation pays €30 on average, depending upon the exact volume of plasma the person is able to donate.

According to the German Red Cross, Germany is short of 200,000 liters of plasma a year.

If you decide to lend a hand to the cause, do read into their guidelines thoroughly and check with a doctor if you're unsure of anything. You also have to clear all the health checks to be able to take part.

Do you have a money-making or money-saving hack you'd like to tell us about? Get in touch! [email protected]

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EXPLAINED: 10 ways to save money on your groceries in Germany

With inflation at its highest level in 70 years, consumers in Germany are really feeling the pinch, particularly in the supermarket. Here are some simple tips on how you can save money on your grocery shopping.

EXPLAINED: 10 ways to save money on your groceries in Germany

1. Buy seasonal products

Fruit and vegetables are less expensive when they are in season in Germany, as they don’t have to be kept in cold storage which – thanks to high energy prices – incurs high costs which are passed onto the customer. So going for produce that is naturally abundant at the time of year can really pay off. 

At the moment, vegetables such as kale, squashes, leaks and cabbages are currently in season, but you can refer to an online Saisonkalendar (season calendar), such as this one, to keep an eye on which fruits and veggies are in season at different times of the year.

Regional organic vegetables on sale in Brandenburg. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Bernd Settnik

2. Go easy on butter 

The price of butter in Germany has increased by over 40 percent in the last year – in some cases, a 250-gram packet of butter now costs €3. 

READ ALSO: Energy crisis: Which everyday German products are increasing the most in price?

As a substitute for butter in cooking, go for vegetable oils such as olive oil, linseed or soybean oil or certain types of margarine and, for spreadable treats, consider alternatives such as quark or cheese spreads. 

3. Have a meal plan and a shopping list

One golden rule for saving money in the supermarket – wherever you live – is to plan your meals and write down the ingredients in a list. Having a shopping list often helps avoid expensive spontaneous purchases and helps you to really only buy the things you will definitely use.

A woman writes a shopping list. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-tmn | Christin Klose

4. Buy less meat

The prices of meat products, such as sausages and fish have also risen by 19.3 percent since last October. As a result, German consumer advocate groups advise shoppers to replace some of their meat products with plant-based foods, pulses or legumes instead, such as lentils, peas, beans, chickpeas, and soybeans.

READ ALSO: Thousands protest in Berlin over price rises

5. Visit markets

Consumer advice groups also advise shoppers in Germany to visit their local fruit and vegetable markets, as fresh produce can often go for a lot cheaper than in the supermarkets.

6. Compare prices by weight 

Another good tip for buying groceries on the cheap is to compare prices by weight, not simply by the retail price on display. In addition to the retail price, you will usually see how much 100 grams of each product costs and you should use this number as a basis for comparison.

A customer stands at the scales for fruit and vegetables in the Eisenstein village store in Bavaria. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Armin Weigel

For example, if you want to buy Parmesan cheese and there are two different varieties marked at €4 and €6, the €4 package may seem cheaper. But if you then look at the price by weight, you may find that the €6 Parmesan comes to €1 per 100 grams, while the €4 package comes to €2 per 100 grams.

7. Use apps to find deals 

The price for the same product can sometimes vary greatly between supermarkets in Germany, so it can pay to shop around.

But, if you don’t have time to go from store to store hunting down the cheapest products, there are several apps – including Smhaggle, Marktguru and KaufDA – available which you can use to find and compare deals in local supermarkets. 

Another great app for those looking to make serious savings on their foodstuffs is Too Good to Go – an app which connects people to local restaurants, bakeries and food shops which are looking to get rid of surplus food. 

8. Get an advantage card

With an advantage card such as the Payback Card or DeutschlandCard, you can collect points every time you shop in a variety of stores, and then ultimately transform these points into monetary discounts. 

A customer uses their Payback app at the supermarket checkout. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/PAYBACK GmbH | PAYBACK GmbH

These cards are free to get and just require registration. Using them regularly, along with extra point-collecting coupons, can amount to quite a savings. 

9. Check out the bottom shelf

The bottom shelves in German supermarkets are often where you will find the most economically-priced products, including the supermarkets’ own-brand products. If you reach for the private labels “Rewe”, “Ja”, “Gut & Günstig”, “Edeka”, “Penny”, “Grandessa” or “Maribel”, you can get almost the identical product as the branded variety for half the price. 

10. Shopping just before closing time

If you shop just before closing time, you can often find great deals in German supermarkets – especially at the vegetable, fruit, meat and yoghurt counters. 

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: Germany’s inflation relief measures to support people in cost of living crisis