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Christmas market in Hildesheim: Before you go to the Glückwein stand, you can save a little money

Photo: Julian Stratenschulte / dpa

Actually, the pre-Christmas season can be contemplative. It's snowing, you get the sleigh out, drink a mulled wine at the Christmas market. But there are a few things you could still get done. It's especially worthwhile now, I promise.

The list is not endless, I have only put together nine particularly worthwhile tips here. There are plenty of others, but these are particularly worthwhile and comparatively easy to implement.

Firstly: Change car insurance in 2023. Millions of car owners can still do this after the actual deadline of 30 November if they have received a premium increase in recent weeks. Because then you are allowed to draw a special right of termination as a joker. After receiving the letter, you have one month to cancel and find a new provider.
With more suitable protection and a cheaper provider, you may be able to save a few hundred euros. I recommend checking Check24 and Verivox – and then checking the prices of HUK24 again. It only takes 15 minutes each time – and if you drove less in 2023, you can even get money back for this year.

Secondly: If you're one of the more than 12 million workers who haven't filed a tax return recently, it's time to do it. Above all, the state exempts you from the obligation because it is very sure that the tax office will no longer be able to collect anything from you. Conversely, however, there is a lot of money to be recovered for many taxpayers. According to their declaration, 90 percent get something back, on average a thousand. Many tenants do not know, for example, that they can claim part of the ancillary rental costs, such as those for the chimney sweep, stair cleaning and a caretaker. Almost every tax-paying tenant will get money back in this way.

Thirdly: If you were not obliged to file a tax return, you can still file your returns for the past four years from 2023 to 2019 in December 2022. And then get money back for each year. If you now say: "But I don't have the documents anymore." Room. At Finanztip you will still find the instructions for the tax return in the respective year. You can quickly determine your travel costs from the years yourself with a serious estimate. 220 times the one-way commute to work in kilometers times the mileage allowance. Or the whole thing with 180 days to work and 40 times the home office flat rate. You have been able to claim this since 2020. You have probably also filed the utility bills for your apartment, which help you save taxes every year. The same goes for domestic helpers and potentially bills from the dentist.

Fourthly: Speaking of invoices. Once the advertising costs have reached the magic amount of 1230 euros, every single receipt helps to save taxes. So for the pencil, the reference book or even the work shoes under the Christmas tree. In the case of craftsmen's costs. you can claim up to 6000 euros in wage and travel costs every year and recover 20 percent of it from your taxes. And the bills for household-related services are also recognized – and again you can claim 20 percent of them. Finally, there's the dentist's bill for the implant. If your so-called extraordinary expenses have reached a certain level, other health costs for the new glasses or hearing aid also count and help to save taxes.

Fifthly: Change your electricity or gas provider before the end of the year. Especially if you have benefited from the electricity and gas price brake so far. An average household that consumes 15,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of gas and 3000 kWh of electricity can save 250 euros on gas in Hamburg in the coming year: from just under 1600 to 1350 euros. For electricity, it is 400 euros: from 1400 to less than 1000 euros. In Dresden, the savings are even greater overall, with gas going from 2280 to 1460 euros and electricity from 1270 to 1000 euros.
With the best offers from the Finanztip calculators, you can save almost 1100 euros here. By the way, you can tie down a new contract up to six months in advance if your old contract is still running for a while.

Sixthly: If you can't switch immediately, at least read all your energy meters at the turn of the year if you are currently still benefiting from the electricity price brake and/or gas price brake. Otherwise, the corporations will make an estimate of your consumption by the end of the year. And that could be lower than your real consumption. Not necessarily with bad intentions. It may also only be due to the fact that the cold days in the past two weeks no longer occur in the model, but have led to significantly more consumption than was usual in November and December. 1000 kWh more on the gas bill at 12 cents with gas price brake instead of 20 cents without brake, saves 80 euros on gas. Billing 200 kWh for electricity with electricity price brake at 40 cents instead of 50 cents without brake makes another 20 euros.

In the case of district heating, the savings are particularly high in many cases thanks to the price brakes. Heat prices in many municipalities are 20 cents per kWh. As a result of the heat price brake, customers will only have to pay 9.5 cents for large parts of their consumption – but only until the end of the year. After that, it becomes bitter – and really expensive. My advice: Be sure to read the heat meter at the turn of the year so that you can see for which consumption you are still entitled to the price brake discount. Many already have an electronic remote reading, but to be on the safe side, make a note of the status at the turn of the year.
Then check whether the district heating connected load of your apartment can be reduced. This is often set too high and alone accounts for a quarter of the energy costs for district heating customers. You can even calculate yourself whether you are paying more power than you need or ask at the consumer advice centre. Once a year, you may have the power reduced. The greater the connected load ordered, the more of your district heating provider's power plant fleet you co-finance.

Seventhly: Get more out of your retirement provision. It is worthwhile to adjust the payments to the company pension scheme (bAV) or the Riester pension before the end of December. In the case of the company pension scheme, you should check whether you want to pay in even more for 2023. You can pay in up to 3504 euros per year (= 292 euros per month) free of taxes and duties. Your boss has to add at least 15 percent on top, good bosses also pay 25 percent.
In the case of a Riester contract, you should check whether you are still paying the optimal amount to receive the full subsidy. This can change if your salary has risen (or decreased), if you have had an additional child or if a child has dropped out of your support at the end of the child benefit entitlement.

More on this topic

  • Heating, car, insurance: Seven tips to arm yourself against the climate crisisA column by Hermann-Josef Tenhagen

  • Discount Week:How to Make Your Christmas Shopping Relaxed and AffordableA Column by Hermann-Josef Tenhagen

  • Unnecessary Policy:The End of Residual Debt InsuranceA column by Hermann-Josef Tenhagen

Eighthly: For those of you who took out a particularly favourable mortgage between 2015 and 2021: Save yourself the special repayment this year and pay the money into a good fixed-term deposit account. You only save one or one and a half percent interest on the special repayment, but four percent interest on the fixed-term deposit. With a special repayment of 5000 euros, you have 100 to 150 euros more available per year.

Ninthly: You can still get married in 2023. If you can still get a registry office appointment. With spousal splitting. many couples can already save thousands of euros for the whole of 2023. For 25 years, you no longer need a contingent or witnesses to get married. Once you have your papers together, all that's missing is a registrar who has time for you.

For emancipatory reasons, one can consider spousal splitting to be pretty old hat. But that doesn't have to stop you from using splitting while it's still around.

Good luck!