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How renting technology in Germany can save you money

Dealing with old tablets, laptops, computer mice and chargers that you don’t know what to do with? You’re not alone - across Germany and Austria, hundreds of thousands of expats carry the accumulated ‘tech junk’ of the last few years with them.

How renting technology in Germany can save you money
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Together with tech subscription company Grover, we look at how you can break the ‘tech junk’ cycle and still enjoy all of the gadgets you want.

Whatever your interests, whatever you do, we’re surrounded by technology. Whether it’s an interest in photography, gaming or flying a drone, that technology accumulates, as gadgets become obsolete. That’s not including the cables, chargers and other bits of kit that come with any tech purchase, as well the innumerable boxes, bags and wrapping!

Ready to use technology in a more mindful way? Rent for three months and receive 90% your first month by using the discount code THELOCAL90 on the German or Austrian site

A load of old junk

It’s not like you can simply throw them away either. Germany and Austria both have very particular regulations when it comes to the disposal of electronic waste, as many of the materials used are only recyclable under certain conditions, or pose an environmental hazard, such as rechargeable batteries. The German Umwelt Bundesamt, or Federal Environmental Office has estimated that each of us produces around nine and a half kilograms of ‘tech waste’ each year, and this deadweight just sits there and accumulates dust, taking up space around us and not giving us the satisfaction it could.

You could donate these goods to charitable organizations, but most of the time, they don’t have the need for such obsolete technology and you would only be shifting the burden to someone else. You could sell your old gadgets via an internet site like Ebay Kleinanzeigen, but this can often cost you more money than you would realistically make, when you factor in all the steps needed to list an item and make a sale.

Stay up to date and reduce ‘tech waste’ – rent for three months and receive 90% off your first month by using the discount code THELOCAL90. Click here if you’re in Germany, or here if you’re in Austria

Better living through (flexible) technology

Keen to clear your ‘tech junk’ drawer and find a way to enjoy all the different technology you want? This is what makes Grover such an exciting arrival on the scene. The German startup from Berlin has introduced flexible renting of technology across Germany and Austria, with over one hundred fifty thousand active subscriptions running on the platform thus far and growing. In fact, renting through Grover has been introduced at Saturn and Mediamarkt branches across Germany.

For a reasonable payment each month, you can choose to rent a phone, laptop, gaming console or other gadget. At the end of your chosen rental plan, you can either opt to send it back for an upgrade, a different product or you can buy it outright, making it your own forever.

This flexible renting model has significant benefits for users, and especially international expats. Renting on a per month basis often works out cheaper than buying a device outright that you’ll inevitably stop using at some point, and means that a device can be returned when you choose to go home, rather than take something that may not work or take up space in your luggage.

Renting and usage-based consumption are also mindful and far-sighted financial choices that allow us all to keep up to date with our preferred technology, and to stop paying for that technology when we no longer use it. This helps prevent impulse buys that leave us out of pocket and lugging around yet more useless cables and batteries.

Want to try out some more tech? Don’t buy and saddle yourself with more ‘tech waste’. Rent flexibly through Grover and save money and space. Use voucher code THELOCAL90 to receive 90% off your first month, when you rent for three months on either the German or Austrian sites. 

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TECHNOLOGY

12 useful bureaucratic things you can do online in Germany

Germany might be notorious for its paperwork and bureaucratic office wait times, but there are increasingly more things you can take care of from the comfort of your home.

12 useful bureaucratic things you can do online in Germany
Photo: DPA

Moving to Germany from a country that has fully embraced the digital age can mean being surprised at having to buy a stamp instead of filling out an online form. Many have lamented Germany’s less than fast transition onto the online world. 

Partly due to Covid-19 contact restrictions that have been in place in recent months, more and more things in Germany have now gone online and many hope that Germany is, as one Twitter user joked, ‘’slowly approaching the technical level of 1996″ and now entering the 21st century.

READ ALSO: How the pandemic is bringing German bureaucracy out of the 1980s

Before the pandemic, many German offices (including the Bundestag) used fax machines. Photo: DPA

Coronavirus specific:

Ummeldung

Obtaining a document that proves you have a residence in Germany is often the first step to registering for multiple other essential services.

Prior to the crisis, this meant obtaining an appointment and waiting in line. Due to the pandemic, you can now register by post or email. 

However, you can only do this if you have previously registered, and so it only applies to those changing their address – an Ummeldung.

You can email or mail the documents necessary to the Burgeramt in your new district, and they will take a few weeks or days to reply.

Registration of entry into Germany

Those travelling back into Germany from a risk area have to register upon entry to ensure proper quarantine regulations are upheld. Due to the pandemic, this process can be done online via a form found here.

Opening a bank account

Some banks, such as N26, let you open a bank account entirely online. You may be required to verify your identity, which you can also do online via webcam or email verification code.

Benefits

Elterngeld

If you and your partner recently welcomed a baby, you might be able to receive parental allowance (Elterngeld) which is a benefit given to all new parents to subside potential loss of earnings caused by the birth of a new child.

The benefit is shared between parents to give both the time to spend time with a newborn. This can now for the first time be done online, by following this form here.

Kindergeld

On the same note it is also now possible to apply for Kindergeld via an online form. Kindergeld is a monthly benefit given to all parents in Germany, to ensure that their basic needs are met.

Both Kindergeld and Elterngeld can now be filled out in one document – a Kombi-Antrag online – although they must still be printed out, signed and sent to the relevant office. 

READ ALSO: From Kindergeld to tax benefits: What changes for families in Germany in 2021

Arbeitslosengeld 

Most people are entitled to Arbeitslosengeld if they have lost their job, and also in some cases if they have quit and are on the lookout for a new position.

An important part of receiving this unemployment benefit is registering in time (usually around three months) which you can do online here. It is important to note however, that you still have to book an appointment at your local office to finish the process.

BAföG

BAföG provides crucial financial support to students during their studies. Whilst foreign students are only eligible subject to certain requirements, the application process can be done online by following this link.

READ ALSO: How to finance your master’s studies in Germany as an international student

Medical

Prescriptions via QR code

From July 1st, patients will receive their prescription from their doctor via QR code and app and transmit it to the pharmacy. The pharmacy can then inform the patient whether the preparation is in stock or when it will be ready for collection. 

This model is to be mandatory for people with statutory health insurance as early as 2022, and is set to completely replace the paper prescription.

Sick notes submitted electronically to health insurance

Until now, employees had to submit their sick note (Krankenschein) to the insurer themselves when they called in sick at work.

An ‘Arbeitsunfähigkeitsbescheinigung’, or sick note, which until now the employee submits directly to their employer after receiving it from a doctor. Photo: DPA

As of January, this can be done electronically: the doctor will then send the so-called eAU (electronic certificate of incapacity for work) directly to the insurer. However, the patient will still receive a paper certificate which they can pass on to their employer.

From 2022, the employer will also be able to retrieve the sickness notification directly from the health insurance company.

READ ALSO: How Germany plans to ditch paper sick notes for digital ones

Tax

Register and pay your TV tax

Although the majority may not enjoy having to pay TV tax monthly (especially if they don’t have or use a TV) you can make the process less painful by now registering your flat and setting up a payment method online.

Apply for a tax number

Your tax number, or Steuernummer can also be collected online. It is useful primarily for freelancers and businesses. The form can be filled out online and submitted to the Finanzamt, or tax office. You can find help filling out the form in English here. If you own a business, and it moves to a different Finanzamt’s area, your tax number will also change. 

File taxes

Again, especially relevant for freelancers or those self-employed, you can use ELSTER, an online tax office system designed by the Budeszentralamt fur Steuern, or the Central Tax Office to submit your tax returns online.

The first step is to create an account and either choose to auto-fill in the form or fill it in yourself. You will receive a digital signature and be able to fill out your forms and submit them online.

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