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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

MONEY

‘I’m still waiting’: Foreigners in Austria still not been paid Klimabonus handout

Millions of residents in Austria were sent €500 one-off payment by the state to help them deal with the increasing cost of living. But many people (especially foreigners) who were entitled still haven't received their money.

'I'm still waiting': Foreigners in Austria still not been paid Klimabonus handout

The Klimabonus, a €500 one-off payment sent out by the Austrian government to (almost) everyone who lives in the country to help cushion inflation costs, has been a heated topic since it was first announced.

So far, more than 7.4 million people have received the bonus via a bank transfer, while more than 1.2 million got vouchers that could be redeemed in stores or for cash, according to the Climate Ministry. 

Anyone who has lived in Austria for at least 183 days during the year 2022 is entitled to the 2022 payment. People who only fulfilled the requirement in the second half of 2022 (newborn babies and recently relocated residents) will receive the total 2022 Klimabonus amount in the second wave of payments set for February 2023.

READ ALSO: Reader question: Is travelling to Austria this winter worth it?

However, many who have already fulfilled the criteria in the first semester are still waiting for their payments. One reader who asked not to be identified said: “I have lived in Vienna for over three years. I have a rental apartment, health insurance, and accurate financial information on FinanzOnline. I also have a Handy Signatur and a bank account at BAWAG PSK.”

“But I never received my Klimabonus or a voucher.” 

Igor Zuljic, a Croatian national who has lived in Austria for more than 30 years, is also still waiting to receive his payment. 

“I have been doing my Steuerausgleich every year. So they have my details and my bank account. I received money before from the Finanzministerium“, said the 37-year-old.

“I think it was just a huge administrative task that they just couldn’t perform because it was too massive”, he said.

Lack of transparency

The government said that some groups of EU citizens or third-country nationals were affected by “some problems with the automated entitlement check by the Ministry of the Interior”.

“​​Every effort is being taken to find a solution, please bear with us. You will receive your payment for 2022 in the second wave of payments starting February 2023)”, the authorities said.

The exact number of people affected is unclear, and the Ministry hasn’t replied to Austrian media asking the reasons for the delays, what exactly is being checked or whether there is a connection with the countries of origin. 

READ ALSO: Klimabonus: Payments complete for the Austria-wide scheme

Broadcaster ORF estimates that as many as 300,000 people could be affected. 

As the government said that around 400,000 people would receive a payment in February, the website removed the estimated number of people who moved to or were born in Austria in the first half of the year, about 100,000, to reach the 300,000 estimate.

A hard-to-reach hotline

The reader that reached out said she tried calling the hotline, but they would not talk to her as she doesn’t speak German.

“They said in English that they would only talk to me in German”, she said. Her husband got his Klimabonus via voucher early on, she added. 

READ ALSO: Klimabonus in Austria: What to do if you miss the pickup deadline for your voucher

According to the daily Der Standard, there are currently 140,000 “open tickets” in the Klimabonus “service centre” – though there could be double reports, so the number doesn’t necessarily equate to the number of people affected. 

The website reported cases of people finding the hotline often unavailable, not getting promised callbacks or simply being hung up on complicated questions.

The Ministry stated that the employees of the Klimabonus hotline receive regular training and that “various quality assurance processes” are in place.

What is the Klimabonus?

With rising inflation, mainly due to the increasing energy costs, people in Austria have seen their salaries purchasing less and less. Because of that, the federal government announced a €6 billion package with assistance, tax cuts and one-off payments.

The main (and somewhat controversial) payment is the so-called “climate bonus and anti-inflation payment”, better known as Klimabonus in Austria. Residents of the country will receive €500 to help cushion the effects of climbing prices. Minors are entitled to half that amount.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How Austria’s new finance measures could benefit you

The only criterion is that the recipient must have lived in Austria for at least 181 days in 2022 to be eligible for the payment. Your nationality or employment status doesn’t matter – if you have spent six months legally in 2022 in the country, you will get the money.

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