Germany’s private households waste around 596 billion euros every year. That is almost 20 euros per citizen per day. That’s what a study finds out. Where the money goes – and how that can be changed.

Most consumers are familiar with this: Not every issue is necessary, and some purchases would be better left out. As long as it’s a small amount, it’s not really a problem. But a study by the investment platform WeltSparen shows that the general waste of money involves large amounts – for each individual and for everyone together.

In detail, the study shows that every German citizen wastes around 83 cents per hour on avoidable expenses. An apparently small amount of money – but within 24 hours that adds up to 19.95 euros! That makes an impressive 7180 euros a year – for every citizen. That is almost the value of a small car.

If one calculates the total amount for all almost 83 million German citizens, one comes to the exorbitant sum of 596 billion euros, which is spent on superfluous things. How did the study arrive at these dizzying numbers?

The authors look at various expense items where they see room for improvement.

Take a gym, for example: Germans shell out an average of 42.10 euros a month for this. Anyone who regularly strengthens their muscles invests the money wisely. But if you only pay for a subscription that you don’t use, you’re throwing 505.20 euros out of the window every year.

Smoking is even worse. Anyone who smokes half a pack a day – and many manage significantly more – dissolves 3.14 euros per day into thin air. That makes 1131.50 euros per smoker per year. All tobacco friends together create 15.8 billion euros per year. Because every third adult smokes.

Another major cost item is the wasteful use of food. Every year, food worth 235 euros per person ends up in the bin. In total, Germans throw food worth 17.3 billion euros.

Unnecessary costs arise at another point in the household: when buying bottled drinking water. Anyone who does this not only carries a lot of weight home. It also brings a lot of money into the beverage trade and supermarkets: on average, drinking water worth 547.50 euros is brought home per capita every year. The same amount of tap water would cost only 2.19 euros a year – with the quality of German drinking water, it is certainly consumable. This means that every “water buyer” could save an average of 545.31 euros.

Another big chunk: If you don’t submit a tax return, you save time and don’t have to get upset about incomprehensible requirements. But one thing is also certain: if you leave the tax authorities unmolested, you also forego the average income tax refund of 1051 euros!

If you keep your assets under the mattress or in an account without interest, you even lose twice. On the one hand, the average inflation rate of currently 7.9 percent is causing the value of money to shrink massively. On the other hand, up to 0.7 percent interest for fixed deposits would be possible. Those who do without who simply park their savings somewhere.

Here is a short sample calculation: If you have 10,000 euros in an interest-free account, you forego 0.7 percent interest, i.e. 70 euros per year. And loses another 790 euros per year due to inflation. Admittedly, no interest account can balance this amount. But if you invest cleverly and don’t make a huge fuss about shares, you can limit your monetary depreciation significantly. Even if the stock exchanges are not coming up with new price records at the moment – those who are patient and sit out lulls can usually look forward to sizeable price gains. So-called ETF (“Exchange Traded Funds”), for example, are suitable for this, as they hardly incur any costs.

If you want to invest in an ETF (Exchange Trade Fund), you need a cheap securities account. Compare Germany’s online banks and neo-brokers according to offer, price and service and then buy your first ETF.

Blind customer loyalty can be quite expensive with gas and electricity – especially with rising prices for basic suppliers. If you still don’t change tariffs, you waste an average of 90 euros on electricity and 240 euros on gas per year. So a total of 330 euros every year.

An oversized mobile phone tariff with a lot of unused data costs even 492.60 euros more than necessary – according to the data of the experts.

The waste continues seamlessly: nothing works without a streaming service. The selected tariff should only correspond to your own needs. This is not the case with many contemporaries. This explains why everyone spends 195.23 euros per year on various streaming services. If the tariffs are used, that’s fine. But many are sitting on oversized amounts of data.

If you add up all the items, then the Germans waste 596 billion euros per year. For comparison: Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner is planning total expenditure of 496 billion euros for the current year. So exactly 100 billion less.

About the methodology: The study authors analyzed the above expenditure and revenue points and extrapolated them using population data and statistics. These are therefore calculated values ​​- which should come very close to the actual situation.

Details on the study can be found here.