Food is definitely the issue at stake here. Since I want to stick to the essentials with the guide, there will be some ideas on buying cheap alternatives of different products in the next section, but for now, let’s focus on the one thing we simply cannot relinquish.
Now that we know how important it is to cook at home, a revolution has to happen on the shelves of your fridge. Instead of the take-away leftovers, you could be buying at Aldi and Netto, and while some people just hint at the latter’s frozen pizza deals, they’re both actually offering an acceptable range of products.
Turkish markets, with discounts on a Saturday evening, are said to be another source of affordable fruit and vegetables. So are local markets, like the one at Wedding behind the Rathaus (every Wednesday and Saturday), or another one at Maybachufer (Tuesday and Friday). When you go there after 3 in the afternoon, chances are you’ll be able to get pretty cheap stuff.
As others point out, there are some things you actually don’t need to buy at all. Everyone’s recommending drinking tap water instead of any kind of soda. And I don’t know how significant this fact should be, but the Berliner Wasserbetriebe billboards are almost as funny as the ones from BVG – I remember one saying: “Our water is under stricter control than you before entering a club”. Of course you can also get a water filter.
When it comes to those other liquids people tend to consume in Berlin, especially if it’s for a party, you may consider stocking up a bit over at aforementioned Aldi. I know it feels like cheating on Spätis, but in this particular context they’re like someone you’re dating who’s always there but a bit lame, while actually you could get a much better deal if your ass was a little less lazy. Alternatively: buy Sterni.
There is an interesting app called Meal Saver that’s offering cheap food from restaurant leftovers, which really is a great idea, considering the fact that just in Germany, over one million tonnes of food are being thrown away due to overproduction.
Also, if you still want to eat out, but want to keep the experience somewhat frugal, check out the Five Euro Feed for reviews of Berlin’s cheap food joints.
There’s a thin line between the last paragraph and my last section of the guide, namely lifestyle. Thing is, there are many people in Berlin advocating the habit of saving not (only) because they are financially dependent on that, but because they do believe that a bit less consumer-oriented, closer to nature lifestyle is better for us all.
First of all, Berliners cycle a lot. That saves money on the BVG ticket and makes you fit – maybe even makes the gym subscription redundant, but on that note, how to successfully cancel a gym contract is a topic for an entirely new guide.
It’s not that in Berlin we only buy stuff we really need. But when we do get unnecessary things, we try to make it happen at the flea market. It’s also quite possible to get a nice deal over there, but I can’t share any secret method to achieve this. I’ve never been that much of a haggler. But I once went to the market with a Korean friend who pretended to not understand the price until the seller reduced it by half.
Instead of buying, there are some things you could borrow – if your friends would only read books on techno and why is it the answer to everything, the library membership is relatively cheap, and there are plenty of FB groups to connect with others. And just like in the two previous sections, we have even two extra apps for this purpose as well: WirNachbarn and Nebenan.de are all about fostering the connections in the group of people in your closest vicinity.
Instead of borrowing you could also swap products with other people, the newly launched Jaspr app allows you to offer or search for services or things to exchange in Berlin. And if you really have nothing to give you can check the FB group Free Your Stuff Berlin to look for things people are giving away for free.
Since winter is upon us and there’s no way to sit over the canal anymore, so going out just got way more expensive, I trust these authentic Berliner tips come at just the right moment to help you save up for a little Christmas fun.