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]

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


How much extra will households in Germany pay under new gas surcharge?

With a new gas levy set to come info force in October, experts have been looking at how much more people will have to pay - even if they've already agreed contracts. There are also calls for everyone, including non-gas customers, to contribute.

How much extra will households in Germany pay under new gas surcharge?

What’s happening?

As The Local has been reporting, the German government has put together a draft law which will see a ‘Gasumlage‘ – or levy – brought in to prop up struggling suppliers by allowing them to pass on nearly all the extra costs of soaring gas import prices to consumers. 

According to the initial draft, the levy is expected to apply from October 1st 2022 until April 1st 2024. It’s not clear if costs will reach consumers immediately, but bills will rise significantly as a result of the levy. 

READ ALSO: What is Germany’s new gas ‘tax’ and who will pay more?

Who is affected?

Everyone who uses gas to heat their home or business is affected by the new levy. The charge applies even when customers have already signed contracts where a fixed monthly payment is agreed. About half of all homes in Germany use gas for heating and/or hot water.

Wait – so ordinary people now have to pay for the gas supply problems?

Basically – yes. As Russia has been cutting down supplies, the German government says the levy is needed to share the additional costs for replacing the gas.

Under the Energy Security Act, 90 percent of the additional purchase costs of securing gas will be passed on to all gas consumers from October.

If, for instance, Uniper – the largest gas trader in the country – no longer gets enough gas and therefore has to buy on a daily basis and pays three times as much for this resource, then all gas gas consumers in Germany will bear 90 percent of this cost.

READ ALSO: Why households in Germany will soon face gas bill hikes

What cost increases will these gas customers face?

The ‘tax’ will make gas prices more expensive, although, we won’t know the exact amount of the levy until the middle or end of August.

However, we do have an idea of how much the rising costs will be. Energy and Climate Minister Robert Habeck said last week that the levy could be anywhere in the range of 1.5 to 5 cents per kilowatt hour.

For many consumers, this will be an enormous challenge.

A person changing the heating setting on a radiator. The coalition has pledged financial support people in Germany.

Heating prices are going up. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Fernando Gutierrez-Juarez

According to calculations by the internet portal Check24, a one-person household with an annual consumption of about 5,000 kilowatt hours would have to pay between €89 and €298 a year for the levy alone, while a family with a consumption of 20,000 kilowatt hours would have to reckon with additional costs of €357 to €1,190.

Many consumers who have a price guarantee in their contracts may think they won’t have to pay the levy – but they are wrong, warns Udo Sieverding, energy expert at the North Rhine-Westphalia Consumer Advice Centre.

That’s because this guarantee does not protect against state surcharges or levies. “Everyone has to pay,” says the consumer advocate, regardless of their contract or deal with a supplier. 

READ ALSO: ‘Difficult winters ahead’: Germany sets out emergency energy saving measures

Is it unfair to make gas consumers – and not all households – pay the levy?

The price hike only affects gas customers in Germany. So people whose heating or hot water comes from different sources – such as heat pumps or electricity – will not have to pay it. 

However, gas customers have already been dealing with extremely high prices on new contracts recently. Since July last year, prices for a family household have risen from €1,300 to €3,415 a year. 

Including a levy of five cents per kilowatt hour, a household would have to pay an average of €4,605 – 254 percent more than in July 2021.

Sieverding, of the Consumer Advice Centre, thinks this isn’t fair – and Germany should look at introducing tax increases instead of just making gas consumers pay.

“It’s about solidarity for society as a whole, and tax increases would make more sense than a levy,” he said. He also fears that more and more fan heaters will be plugged into the sockets in winter, putting a strain on the electricity grid.

READ ALSO: Should I invest in an electric heater in Germany this winter?

Why do only gas customers have to pay?

According to German media, gas is the scarcest commodity among the energy sources, and the practical implementation of passing the costs onto gas consumers is much easier than putting in place a general tax on everyone.

Plus: a levy that affects everyone is a serious intervention that has to be proportionate and legally secure.

Isn’t Germany meant to be taking the heat off ordinary people?

Yes. The German government has been trying to cushion the blows of rocketing energy prices and subsequent rising inflation. It has taken measures such as introducing the €9 ticket and a fuel tax cut for three months, giving out a Kinderbonus to children in July and is set to give a taxable €300 payout to people in employment from September – and even got rid of the EEG levy on electricity earlier than planned.

So it seems strange that it is actually bringing in a new levy. However, it reflects the dire situation that Germany is in. Having relied on cheaper Russian gas imports for decades, now the country is having to scramble around to find other sources – and ordinary households are paying the price of political decisions and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions. 


What are businesses saying?

As you can imagine, they are concerned too. The Federation of German Industries has argued for a price cap, or an opportunity to pay in staggered amounts.

“Otherwise, the gas levy threatens to massively undermine the competitiveness of companies,” the association said. 

The German Energy Industry Association, however, welcomes the levy as a measure to pass on replacement costs quickly and “to preserve the liquidity of the energy supply companies”.

The association also highlighted that the charges “are levied equally on all consumers and without privileging certain customer groups”. This allows for a transparent calculation of the levy and a fair distribution of the burden, they said.