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Consumers need to pay attention to a few things in
Consumers need to pay attention to a few things in

This will change in December

Deutsche Bahn changes its timetable and increases some of its prices, Google deletes inactive accounts, the minimum wage in the care sector rises and another million European Championship tickets are sold. This and more awaits you in the new month.

Citizen's allowance increases

Anyone who is dependent on social assistance or citizen's allowance will receive more money from January 2024. Single adults will receive 563 euros a month, 61 euros more than before. Couples in need-based communities will then receive 506 euros per partner instead of the previous 451 euros. The Federal Council already approved an ordinance by the Federal Ministry of Social Affairs in September. The money for January 2024 will be in the accounts of those entitled to it by Friday, December 29, 2023 at the latest, which is why the increase is already being mentioned this month.

Deutsche Bahn changes timetable and prices

A new Deutsche Bahn timetable will apply from December 10. The winter timetable is valid until June 8, 2024. Prices for a Bahncard 25 will increase by 4.9 percent, while Flex prices will also rise by an average of 4.9 percent. In return, customers will also be able to save on flex fares in future by booking early. Prices for the Bahncard 100 and season tickets will also rise by an average of 4.9 percent. The super saver price, on the other hand, will remain unchanged at 17.90 euros, as will the saver price at 21.90 euros.

The new annual timetable will make it even easier for travelers from Berlin to Bavaria. The number of Sprinters between Munich and Berlin is to be doubled with an additional two-hourly Sprinter line. There will also be a new additional two-hourly connection on the Berlin - Wuppertal - Cologne route. In future, there will no longer be a train split in Hamm (Westphalia), which will shorten the journey time by up to 10 minutes. This new connection will create a half-hourly service between Hanover and Berlin.

As additional connections and longer trains will be used on the routes from Berlin to Bavaria and North Rhine-Westphalia, the number of seats available on these routes will increase by up to 25 percent.

Federal states start the winter holidays

For millions of schoolchildren and teachers, the Christmas vacations begin this month. North Rhine-Westphalia, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Saarland and Saxony-Anhalt will be the first federal states to start on December 21.

Here is an overview of the 2023 winter vacations

  • Baden-Württemberg: December 23, 2023 to January 5, 2024
  • Bavaria: December 23, 2023 to January 5, 2024
  • Berlin: December 23, 2023 to January 5, 2024
  • Brandenburg: December 23, 2023 to January 5, 2024
  • Bremen: December 23, 2023 to January 5, 2024
  • Hamburg: December 22, 2023 to January 5, 2024
  • Hesse: December 27, 2023 to January 13, 2024
  • Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania: December 21, 2023 to January 3, 2024
  • Lower Saxony: December 27, 2023 to January 5, 2024
  • North Rhine-Westphalia: December 21, 2023 to January 5, 2024
  • Rhineland-Palatinate: December 27, 2023 to January 5, 2024
  • Saarland: December 21, 2023 to January 2, 2024
  • Saxony: December 23, 2023 to January 2, 2024
  • Saxony-Anhalt: December 21, 2023 to January 3, 2024
  • Schleswig-Holstein: December 27, 2023 to January 6, 2024
  • Thuringia: December 22, 2023 to January 5, 2024

Google deletes inactive accounts

Google wants to start deleting user accounts that have not been used for more than two years from the new month. This change is intended to increase security, as unused accounts are more susceptible to attacks. Anyone who logs into their Google account at least once every two years will be considered active - the account will not be deleted.

According to Google, the account also remains active if:

  • an email is read via Gmail
  • Google Drive is used
  • a YouTube video is watched
  • a photo is shared
  • an app is downloaded
  • Google search is used
  • "Sign in via Google" is used to sign in to a third-party app or service

Holidays in December

Christmas Day and Boxing Day on Monday, December 25 and Tuesday, December 26 are public holidays throughout Germany. If you give yourself four days off around Christmas, you can take a total of ten days off at the end of the year. Period: December 23 (Saturday) to January 1 (Monday).

Minimum wage in care increases

Before the statutory minimum wage rises at the beginning of the new year, the decoupled minimum wage for the care sector will also be raised. For the approximately 1.3 million employees in facilities that fall under this regulation, this means more money from December 1. According to the Ministry of Health, care assistants will receive 14.15 euros instead of 13.90 euros, qualified care assistants will receive 15.25 euros (previously 14.90 euros) and the minimum wage for care professionals will rise to 18.25 euros (from 17.65 euros).

Service charge settlement due for many tenants

The landlord must have sent the service charge statement no later than twelve months after the end of the billing period. For the 2022 operating year, for example, the deadline is December 31, 2023, otherwise the landlord's claims will become invalid. However, other periods are also possible depending on the contract. In principle, only ancillary costs that are mentioned in the rental agreement may be billed.

Car insurance - special right of termination in the event of a premium increase

Car insurance policies normally run for one year. Unlike other insurers, car insurance policies can be canceled with just one month's notice to November 30, not the usual three months. However, if the provider increases the premiums, it is still possible to switch in December. In this case, the special right of termination also applies.

End of the electricity and gas price brakes

Federal Minister of Finance Christian Lindner has declared the price brakes for electricity, gas and district heating to end at the end of the year. With the price brakes, the state has been officially helping its citizens since March 2023 to cope with the excessive energy costs at the time. They already applied retroactively for January and February. The energy price brakes cap 80 percent of the previous year's consumption at the energy price - 12 cents for gas and 40 cents for electricity - per kilowatt hour. Consumption above this level is billed at the energy price of the current gas or electricity tariff.

In an analysis, the comparison portal Verivox comes to the conclusion that the end of the price brakes will only have a minor price effect for most households. This also applies to the expensive basic supply. The bottom line is that annual electricity costs will rise by 5 euros (0.3 percent) and gas costs by 82 euros (2.8 percent).

Deadlines for Christmas mail

According to Deutsche Post, the following posting deadlines apply for the timely delivery of letters and parcels by December 24:

Letters and postcards

Shipping to:

  • Germany December 21
  • European countries December 13
  • outside Europe December 6

DHL parcels and packages

Shipping to:

  • Germany December 20
  • Neighboring countries (except France) 14 December
  • Other European countries December 11
  • outside Europe November 28
  • outside Europe with Service Premium December 5

New freeway vignettes for Switzerland and Austria

The new 2024 annual freeway vignettes for Switzerland and Austria are already available and valid. Annual highway use costs 42 euros in Switzerland and 96.40 euros in Austria.

Another million tickets sold for the European Football Championships

The application phase for tickets for the European Football Championship 2024 in Germany began on October 3. After just 24 hours, more than 7.8 million ticket requests had been received for the coveted 1.2 million tickets in the first sales phase. From December 2, another million tickets will be sold after the group draw. They will only be available digitally and in personalized form. Among other things, this is intended to counteract uncontrolled sales on the black market.

Certain lawn mowers are subject to compulsory insurance

So-called ride-on lawn mowers, which are used on large properties in particular, are subject to general liability or motor vehicle liability insurance from the new month due to an EU directive, provided they can travel between 6 and 20 kilometers per hour. However, if the vehicle is only used on private property, the insurance obligation does not apply.

Wine labels with more information

From December 8, labels on wine bottles or a corresponding QR code on them that are produced after this date must state how many calories a glass of wine contains. Information must also be provided on other nutritional values and ingredients.