Living here for a relatively short amount of time has made it difficult to know what to invest in, and how much to invest. This was the topic of one of our Trailing Spouses meetings in the fall, where we discussed everything from getting more involved in the community to saving up for the future financial well-being of your family.

However, in this post, I’m not talking about anything too deep. All I really mean is along the lines of: should I buy a spatula? Or is it worth it for me to devise my own scrambled egg-scraping device out of a plasticware top and some napkins, knowing that I will (or at least am planning to) be leaving the country in a few months?

We are now living in our second of two furnished apartments and, needless to say, the term “furnished” is used pretty liberally here. We have an interesting hodgepodge of pots, pans and plates, most likely accumulated from previous tenants who have come and gone. We also found ourselves missing some essentials (big knife that actually cuts things thicker than butter? Yes, please).

So what’s a trailing spouse to do when there’s no Wal-mart to be found? Here are some of the most promising places that I’ve found in Bielefeld where you can get the things you need for less.

Recycling Borse – For Americans, this is like  a Goodwill. I’ve been really impressed with the selection at both locations. It’s a great place to look for bikes, and even though we aren’t looking for furniture, I’ve seen good deals

Flohmarkts – Always fun!

Tedi – A good place for those little kitchen essentials (ahem…spatula, anyone?).

Kik – I almost cried when we wandered into this store for the first time. It’s like Big Lots, and anyone who knows me knows how I feel about Big Lots. I got a winter coat here when my to-be-shipped jacket went MIA. You can also get tons of things for the home here, which makes it a nice place to stock up on knick-knacks and wall decorations for temporary housing.

Aldi – Ok, so I guess we have these in the U.S., but I’d never been to one, so I had no idea. It can be pretty hit-or-miss, though it’s a good place to go for some of the essential groceries. Plus, Aldi owns Trader Joe’s, so you get to experience the demented delight of seeing Trader Joe’s products translated into German.

Lidl – A more established grocery store than Aldi, but still at low prices. They have an aged goat cheese here that will knock your socks off. As with Aldi, it’s fun to paw through the central “household good” bins and see what kind of oddities you come up with.

These are just the ones that are important for the things that we need, and this is by no means the end of the list. For example, we haven’t been on the lookout for large items like furniture, but I know there are other places that sell home goods on the cheap in town. So, what did I miss? What other thrift stores or general good deals should a Bielefeld trailing spouse be aware of?