Even in Berlin, maintaining the individual desired level of social prosperity may present some difficulty. In other words: during a party spree comprising of multiple venues in, say, Kreuzberg, you may choose to rely on an ubahn rather than an uber as you proceed with the night’s schedule. You may be more inclined towards the latter if you’re visiting from Scandinavia.
Because even though Berlin is undoubtedly a much cheaper place to live than London or Paris, most people don’t necessarily earn enough to be able to appreciate it. Especially when we acknowledge the rise in the housing prices, Berlin is no Shangri-La, or at least does not become one until Friday night.
And after you’ve had your go at Berlin’s blissful spare time opportunities, and hopefully you’re still in possession of all your belongings, or at least dignity, sobering Monday kicks in and you need to deal with the reality – rummaging your pockets in search of some euros is a common first step. If by some chance it turns out that you’ve got more hickeys on your neck than notes in the wallet, Berlin may awake yet another kind of desire – the desire to save money…
Berlin feels like a safe space when it comes to that. There’s no shame in rolling your cigarettes instead of buying them in packs when at any given time there’s at least one other person in your U-bahn doing exactly that. I don’t smoke myself, but I do freelance, which some may assess as even worse for my financial state of affairs. And that’s how I decided to write iHeartBerlin’s first Money Saving Guide for you to disregard, live by, or simply enjoy. It’s for free after all!
I’ve asked around and got a lot of response. I even wrote a post on the (in)famous Free Advice Berlin, and actually, apart from around 10 pretty creepy friend requests and 4 creepier messages (like “Why save, girl? I got a job for you” – seriously), I did get some valid information. From the really varied collection of tips like “buy speed instead of coke” and “always get a Tinder date to pay for your dinner”, I’ve singled out the reasonable ones – and those could be grouped into either budgeting, lifestyle, or products.
People of Berlin are clearly in favor of fixing a budget. What they often suggest is the envelope system – dividing your money among different budget categories or alternatively dividing it over the amount of time you allow yourself to spend a particular amount of money in (for example an envelope for a week). In the second option, you may want to deduce all your fixed costs first. This tangible way of handling money may give you a better understanding of how much you have to spend and how much you actually are spending.
If you’re looking for numbers to compare your spending habits with, they vary a lot. From what I’ve heard, a family of 5 can have a budget of 20 euros for 3 meals, and if you think that’s frugal, there’s a girl who’s reduced the costs of her food to 2 euros per day – her argument being that once you’ve bought some essentials like rice, bread, or noodles, which cost slightly more, you can have a meal ready just with sour cream, fried vegetables, and some spices.
Depending on how much you’re earning, another habit you may want to adopt is setting an automatic monthly transfer from your main bank account to another one which you’ll only use to save. Some also suggest investing this amount in safe stocks, like Apple or Netflix, which won’t make a difference in the short term, but will bring a profit over time.
Another suggested form of saving is putting aside 2 euro coins. I haven’t tried myself, but they supposedly fit into a bottle and then you can’t get them out. If you think about it, 2 euro coins do bring a nice amount over time, and then you just take them over to your bank.
There’s a growing trend to organize your life on your smartphone – and we have you covered here as well. I found out about a free app to manage your expenses. It’s called the Money Lover and is described as an app that “allows you to track and categorize your in-and-out money and create budgets”.
Continue to read on page 2 the second part of our Money Saving Guide…