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GERMAN LANGUAGE

7 ways to talk about money in German

With many of us having to tighten our belts at the moment, here are some uniquely ways to talk about the hot topic of money in German.

7 ways to talk about money in German

1. Geld wie Heu haben

If you’re lucky enough to be extremely wealthy, you may be able to say “Ich habe Geld wie Heu”, though it won’t make you very popular.

The English translation of this widely used phrase is “to have money like hay” –  in other words, to have so much money that it’s barely countable.

As most people don’t have huge hay reserves these days, the phrase likely dates back to the Middle Ages, when the gap between rich and poor, namely between the rural population and the nobility, was particularly stark.

Example:

Seine Eltern haben Geld wie Heu!

His parents have got money to burn!

2. Wer den Pfennig nicht ehrt, ist den Talers nicht wert

This thrifty phrase translates as “he who does not honour the penny is not worth the taler” – taler being an old silver coin. It’s similar in meaning to the phrase “look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves” in that it reminds us to appreciate even the small things, and that many small coins add up to a large sum.

(Photo by Philippe HUGUEN / AFP)

The origin of this phrase goes all the way back to the time of Martin Luther in the 15th century, who is said to have written the older version of the phrase Wer den Pfennig nicht achtet, der wird keines Guldens Herr (“He who does not respect the penny will not be the master of a Gulden”) above his kitchen stove in chalk.

3. Geld zum Fenster hinaus werfen

This expression is about wastefulness, and means “throwing money out of the window”.

The phrase is said to have originated in the Middle Ages in Regensburg, where the ruler would stand at the town hall window and throw money to his subjects.

But, since it was their tax money he was throwing, the citizens coined the phrase: “Throwing our money out the window” to describe wastefulness.

Examples:

Du hast schon immer das Geld zum Fenster hinausgeworfen.

You have always thrown the money out the window.

Statt das Geld zum Fenster hinauszuwerfen, sollte er besser mal sparen.

Instead of throwing money down the drain, he’d be better off saving it.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How to get free vouchers to learn German in Vienna

4. Geld auf die hohe Kante legen

This phrase goes back to a time when banks were seen as untrustworthy and people preferred to save their money in a hidden place in their homes.

(Photo by Andre Taissin on Unsplash)

The phrase meaning, “to place money on the high ledge” is still widely used today, as a way of saying “put a bit of money aside” and to save.

Example:

Die Deutschen legen immer einen Teil ihrer Einkommen auf die hohe Kante.

Austrians always put some of their income on the side.

5. Zeit ist Geld

Ok, so this one doesn’t originate from Austria or Germany, but it’s certainly widely-used in the German language.

The expression comes from Benjamin Franklin, the American scientist and politician who wrote it in his “Advice to Young Merchants” in 1748.

READ ALSO: TEST: Is your German good enough for Austrian citizenship?

It since found its way into the German language, which is hardly surprising. And the Germanic famous punctuality fits well with the idea that wasted time is costly.

Example:

In dieser Situation gilt: Zeit ist Geld.

In a situation like this, time is money.

6. das Geld aus der Tasche ziehen

This unpleasant phrase means “to pull something out of someone’s pocket” and is mostly used to refer to scamming, rather than theft.

It usually means to induce someone, in a cunning or fraudulent way, to spend money, or to take financial advantage of someone.

Examples:

Wolltest du mir das Geld aus der Tasche ziehen?

Were you trying to con me out of my money?

Trickbetrüger zeigen sich immer kreativer, wenn es darum geht, ihren Opfern Geld aus der Tasche zu ziehen.

Con artists are becoming increasingly creative when it comes to taking money out of their victims’ pockets.

7. Blank sein

Blank sein – meaning to “be broke”, is a situation most of us have probably found ourselves at one point or another.

The term blank originally meant “bright” or “shiny”, but later, the word came to mean “free of” or “stripped of”, eventually leading to this expression, meaning to be “free of money”.

Example:

Ich würde dir eins abkaufen, aber ich bin blank.

I would buy one from you, but I’m broke.

READ ALSO: 8 TV shows you should watch to learn about Austrian culture

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For members

VIENNA

From rent to bills: How much money do I need to live in Vienna?

Vienna is known for having an affordable cost of living, but how much does it actually cost residents to live there? Here’s how much you need to earn to cover the basics in Vienna.

From rent to bills: How much money do I need to live in Vienna?

Vienna is famous for its high standard of living and has often been named as the world’s most liveable city. 

A big part of this can be put down to the city’s social housing policy – a move described by the Financial Times as “radical”.

Around 60 percent of Vienna’s residents live in subsidised housing and the City of Vienna is Europe’s biggest public owner of social housing. But unlike other cities around the world, social housing in Vienna is typically of high quality and also available for middle class families and professionals. 

FOR MEMBERS: Water, waste collection, parking: How Vienna will get more expensive in 2023

And due to the high level of social housing, rents in the private sector in Vienna have not risen to levels seen in places like London and New York where city centres are now only affordable for wealthy people.

But even though Vienna might be considered as a “cheap” place to live for some, there is still a minimum amount that residents need to earn in order to live in the city and sustain a reasonable lifestyle.

Rent: €13.80 to €17.90 per square metre

A recent report by Immowelt shows the average cost of an apartment in Vienna’s city centre, or 1st District, is €17.90 per sqm. This means the average monthly price to rent a 60 sqm apartment is €1,074.

However, the city centre is the most expensive part of Vienna, so there are more affordable places to live. 

Cheaper districts include Leopoldstadt (€14.70 per sqm), Mariahilf (€15.30) and Favoriten (€14.50). The cheapest district is Rudolphsheim Fünfhaus with an average rental cost of €13.80 per sqm.

But data from Statista shows rent prices in Vienna have already gone up. In January 2023, the average cost per square metre in the city centre was €21.88. The cheapest district was Hernals at €14.43.

READ ALSO: The downsides of Vienna you should be aware of before moving there

Utilities: €150 to €200 per month

The cost of energy has been rising across Austria for months due to high inflation, so it’s hard to predict how much the average cost of utilities in Vienna will be.

Also, around 440,000 homes in Vienna are warmed by district heating – a huge pipeline heating system that is 50 percent powered by waste heat from power plants, industrial waste and biomass. The rest is generated by natural gas.

But this doesn’t mean Vienna’s residents have been shielded from the effects of inflation. 

In September 2022, Wien Energie – the city’s main energy provider – announced the price of district heating will go up by an average of €45 per month. As a result, the estimated average monthly bill (based on a 70 sqm home) was reported to be around €145 per month.

For those not on district heating, a two-person household can expect to pay around €150 per month for gas and electricity.

Also, from January 1st 2023, the cost of water supply, wastewater and waste disposal has gone up in Vienna.

The fee increase means a monthly adjustment of approximately €2.90 for an average multi-person household. For an average single household, the monthly fee adjustment is approximately €1.30. 

Calculated over the year, this results in an additional burden of approximately €35 or €15.60 – per household and year.

READ MORE: Reader question: When will I get my 2023 Klimabonus payment in Austria?

Transport: €30 per month

Vienna’s transport system is extensive with buses, trains (including underground lines) and trams. It is also very affordable.

In fact, public transport in Vienna can cost as little as €1 per day for people that purchase an annual ticket from Wiener Linien, the city’s public transport operator.

A single ticket for Wiener Linien transport (bus, tram, metro and local trains) costs €2.40.

Groceries: €200

The cost of groceries in Austria varies depending on where you shop.

For people on a budget, shopping at discounters such as Hofer (Austria’s Aldi), as well as at international supermarkets, is a good idea. 

At these cheaper supermarkets, it shouldn’t be too hard to cover monthly food shopping for a single-person household for around €200 per month. Although prices have been going up in all supermarkets due to inflation.

Childcare: €72 per month

Childcare in Austria is heavily subsidised by the government and even more so in the capital. This includes nurseries (for children up to the age of three) and kindergartens (from age three to six).

In Vienna, parents only need to pay €72.33 a month to cover meal costs, with low income families being exempt from that fee. Vienna also subsidises private kindergartens, paying up to €635.44 a month directly to the institution. 

This is in stark contrast to some other European countries, like the UK.

According to charity Coram in their Childcare Survey 2022, the average cost of full-time nursery in the UK is £1,166 (around €1,304 a month), which is even higher in some parts of London. 

FOR MEMBERS: EXPLAINED: Is it cheaper to buy or to rent property in Austria?

Total monthly budget for essentials: €1,500 for city centre

If you’re planning to live in the city centre (and you don’t have kids), then you should budget around €1,500 a month to pay for essentials.

Of course, this becomes cheaper if you choose to live in another district, are frugal with food shopping and conscious of how much energy you use.

This cost can also go up if you have a family and need to rent a bigger apartment, so keep these points in mind when negotiating a salary.

Leisure and social time

Life is about more than simply paying for the essentials – especially in a city like Vienna.

Here’s what you can expect to pay for going out and enjoying yourself in the city.

Domestic beer: €4.20

Glass of wine: €3-€5

Cappuccino: €3.57

Cinema ticket: €11

Gym membership: €30 per month

Meal for two at a mid-range restaurant: €50-€90

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