For members


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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”.


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

Member comments

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


Six things you need to know about salaries in Austria

Austria is a great country to live and work in, and the government is currently looking for skilled workers in most sectors. Here's what you need to know about wages in Austria before working here.

Six things you need to know about salaries in Austria

If you are moving to Austria, you might soon start looking for a job in the country. However, like many other aspects of living abroad, there are several cultural differences and specificities when it comes to job hunting in Austria – especially when it comes to salaries.

And, yes, some particularities of the Alpine republic may surprise people from other countries. Here are six things you need to know about salaries in Austria.

READ ALSO: How Austria is making it easier for non-EU workers to get residence permits

Companies need to post the salary for each position

By law, companies are required to post the salary for each position they advertise. The intention is that things become more transparent. However, you will usually see a gross yearly amount advertised followed by a sentence that might read something like this: “Abhängig von Qualifikation und Erfahrung“, which means the actual amount depends on qualifications and experience.

Or they might add: “Bereitschaft zur Überbezahlung“, meaning there is a “willingness to overpay”, and the advertised amount is only the starting salary. 

In some positions, they will mention payment is according to “kollektivvertrag“, which are the sector salary negotiations in Austria, which leads us to…

There is no minimum wage in Austria

For many new arrivals to Austria, it is surprising that Austria does not have a legal minimum wage. However, this does not mean people can be paid as much (or as little) as their boss likes.

While many other countries worldwide set a statutory minimum wage to ensure workers – particularly those working in the service industry – are not underpaid, in Austria, this takes place through negotiating collective agreements.

Collective agreements in Austria stipulate how much employees must earn. This is, in effect, a minimum amount, as employers are free to pay their employees a higher amount if they see fit or to set up bonus schemes.

So, if you see a job post saying they pay according to the “kollektivvertrag“, it means they pay minimum wage for the position. You can check the collective agreements of every sector HERE.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about the ‘minimum wage’ in Austria

Negotiating salaries is very common

Since most job ads already state that there is a “willingness to pay more” or that the actual salary depends on “qualification and experience”, it is widespread to negotiate salaries in Austria.

While this might be considered too forward in some countries, in Austria, people are expected to bring their qualifications to the table and negotiate a salary. Depending on the company and sector, this might even be the case for positions with a fixed salary announced. 

READ ALSO: How long do I have to work for in Austria to get unemployment benefits?


You can negotiate your salary in Austria. Photo by Headway on Unsplash

Check if the salary is for full or part-time positions

Sometimes, a company will announce a part-time job or a position with flexible hours but mention the wage for a full-time worker. Here’s a real example where the company was very clear about it:

“Überkollektivvertragliche Entlohnung brutto € 2.000,00 bei 40 Stunden pro Woche. Das gewünschte Stundenausmaß kann individuell vereinbart werden. Wir bieten selbstverständlich eine marktkonforme Überzahlung entsprechend Ihrer Qualifikation und Erfahrung.”

What they are saying is that the salary for the position is above the minimum required for the sector totalling € 2,000 for 40 hours/week. However, they say the desired number of hours can be agreed upon individually. Not every company clarifies this, and the job might be for 20-hour weeks, but the salary could be for 40 hours/week. So, you’ll need to do the maths.

This particular ad also had a variation of the “we are willing to pay more” sentence. They said: “We offer an overpayment in line with the market according to your qualifications and experience”.

READ ALSO: REVEALED: What are the best paying jobs in Austria?

Austrians are paid 14 times a year

If you are a salaried employee in Austria, you’ll be happy to know that you are likely entitled to 14 payments a year. One of the “extra” ones comes just before the summer holidays, while the other is paid ahead of the Christmas holidays.

Additionally, they are taxed at a much lower rate than regular salaries, so you get to keep more of it.

The thing to pay attention to is when you are looking for jobs and they advertise the yearly pay. If you want to calculate how much you will get on each month roughly, you’ll need to divide it by 14 instead of 12.

READ ALSO: Six official websites to know if you’re planning to work in Austria

The gross vs net difference

Most ads will show the gross salary a worker can expect. Social security contributions and taxes in Austria take a chunk of workers’ wages. However, public services, including health care, are excellent, and the country’s quality of living is outstanding.

If you want to calculate how much will be sent to your bank account based on a gross salary advertised, you can use several online calculators. One of the best is this one, offered by the Chamber of Labour: HERE.

Do you have any other tips or questions about salaries in Austria? Let us know in the comments below or email us at [email protected]