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Debt Traps

When taking up their studies, many students have to stand on their own feet for the first time in their lives. They must learn to handle their own money in all aspects of life. In this situation, they are easily in danger to get lost due to all offers and sales practices so far unknown—and to run into debts.

One good example are mobile phones (note: in Germany, they are mostly called "handys"). Suppliers advertise with the latest mobiles—for free! To get the free mobile, a contract must be concluded, often for a period of 24 months. The joy at the new mobile and maybe even additional "presents" like digital cameras or computer game consoles makes you blind to the expensive telephone rates. That is why a prepaid mobile almost always is much cheaper. To make phone calls or to send texts, you have to buy a voucher for e.g. € 10 which you can then use up. In this way you are sure not to spend more money on calls than you actually do have.

Another debt trap is the overdraft loan (Dispositionskredit) of the German giro bank account [check(ing) account]. Naturally, this loan is not free of interest. On the contrary, it is very expensive, as the interest is especially high! When using credit cards, you must keep in mind, too, to spend only that amount of money which is truly at your disposal.

One thing is for sure: You definitely must pay back loans. In Germany, there is quite a rigid payment obligation, and normally, payments are not deferred. Whether rent, tuition fees, or health insurance charges are concerned: Make sure to pay in time. If you should be in the awkward situation of not being able to fulfil your obligations, you must contact the institution in question immediately. And please, don’t you ever borrow from a private money lender! The terms and conditions of some of these so-called "loan sharks" are often barely lawful and cause lasting damage to the debtor.

Other important debt traps are the purchase of a car, as the running costs are often underestimated, and (instalment) purchases from mail-order businesses, where payments are made via a customer sales account.

We advise you to keep an eye on your funds and your expenses. If you paid your shopping cash, this would be much easier, as you could then see how much money you still possessed and how much you spent already.

You can find more detailed information at the Schuldenratgeber (debt counselor; only available in German language) of the Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft Schuldnerberatung (= federal association for dept counselling).

If you should be indebted, just face the situation an contact a debt counselling immediately! You will find contacts and further information at hannover.de.



Studentenwerk Hannover
Social and International Affairs Dept.

Lodyweg 1 C
30167 Hannover

Phone +49 511 76-88 919
Phone +49 511 76-88 922
Phone +49 511 76-88 935
Fax +49 511 76-88 927

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