This is how Europe saves - What people in Europe do with their money

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A man sits at a table and counts money
The most important facts about saving in Europe

reading time: ca. 4 minutes

  • When saving, money is not actively spent for consumption, but rather planned for the future. 
  • In European countries, people save money differently.
  • For example, Germans have the highest savings volume per capita and people in the Netherlands store their money in the bank at a good interest rate and over a long period of time.
  • In order to avoid impulse buying, we have 5 valuable tips on how to save money in everyday life.

Who saves the most? Who is a fan of flexible deposit accounts and who puts their money in the bank for the long term? In European countries, there are different tendencies and preferences in how people handle their savings.

Saving is not always synonymous, so this term is explained first. At the end, there are practical tips on how we can be more conscious with our money in everyday life when shopping or travelling.

What does saving actually mean?

Saving money can have different meanings. Some understand it as putting money into an account. Others think of it as investing in real estate, funds or shares, for example. There is no such thing as right and wrong.

What the different meanings have in common is that money is not actively spent on consumption and people save it for the future or for retirement. Investing also involves putting money aside. However, the goal is to generate more from the money that has been saved. 

If the money is traditionally stored at the bank, it cannot multiply. When investing, the higher risk is rewarded with returns. The important thing here is to always think in the long term and only invest what will not be needed in the foreseeable future. Everyone should build up a financial reserve for themselves.

This is how differently people in Europe save money

Europeans save quite differently. Specifically, we are talking about saving money in the bank. This can be savings accounts, deposit accounts, current accounts, or fixed-term deposit accounts. The study "How savers in the Eurozone deposit their money" by Deposit Solutions from 2020 took a closer look at savings behaviour in Europe.

Comparing the five leading economies of France, Spain, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands, the study shows that

  • the Germans have the highest savings volume per capita
  • Italy and Spain have the lowest savings rate per capita
  • France and the Netherlands have their money mainly in savings accounts
  • people in Germany, Spain and Italy tend to save money in current accounts

Overall, a great amount of money is still put aside in the analysed countries, although the interest rates in the bank are very low - investing and a positive money mindset would be more profitable for all savers at this point.

Who saves for the long term and who is more flexible?

Long-term on the savings account or flexible with the deposit account: Saving money is possible in many ways and with various accounts. Almost half of the money in banks in the Eurozone is tied to plannable maturities, with the remaining part being flexibly available. In general, people in Europe have very different preferences for one form of investment or another.

Who would have thought it: Spaniards are very flexible (85 per cent) instead of planning for the long term. In the Netherlands, it's the other way around: Here, 82 per cent of the population put their money in long-term investments.

People in Germany settle in the middle of the five leading economies in Europe. 66 percent of them pay attention to the long-term investment of their money and 34 percent favour flexibility in savings. Italy is significantly above this - with 68 percent favouring flexible savings. Like the Netherlands, people in France also tend towards long-term savings with a fixed interest rate.

Overall, the Netherlands and France are the front runners. They store their savings in an account with a good interest rate and over a long period of time. In contrast, people in southern European countries such as Italy or Spain tend to store their money in the bank only for a short period of time in order to be as flexible as possible.

Hands opening a wallet with banknotes

5 tips on how to save money in everyday life

Coffee with friends in between or a quick lunch with colleagues during the break - many small expenses can add up to a larger amount. Especially impulse buying when shopping or travelling can be avoided. We have 5 valuable tips on how to save money in everyday life.

  • Conscious shopping: We have all been there: we're stressed from work and hungry. The fridge is empty and we need something to eat - so we go shopping and buy lots of things we are craving. Such situations can be avoided by always having fruit, muesli bars or similar at home. They can satisfy the little hunger pangs. In addition, we should allow ourselves a short rest before shopping.
  • Pay cash: A quick swipe of the credit card and the payment is done. Scientific studies show that people are more conscious of their spending when paying cash. When paying by card, we think less about the price. Also, we associate the credit card with a reward because we use it to pay for nice things. This conditioned stimulus is transferred to all card payments and increases the desire to shop.
A woman sits at the table and throws banknotes in the air
  • Compare prices: Larger quantity equals cheaper prices? That is not always the case. Because even the manufacturers know that consumers are trained to use this method and then no longer compare the prices. That is exactly why there are many supposedly economy packs, because few people pay attention to the small print. But it is worth comparing the price per liter, per piece or per 100g.
  • Avoid hasty shopping: Thinking rationally under time pressure? This is difficult for any person. When we are pressed for time, we do not reflect on our behaviour and the reward system takes control of our actions. That is why we should always take time when shopping to avoid impulse buying.
  • 10-minutes / 30-days rule: Do we really need it? This is a question we should ask ourselves before every purchase. The spontaneous tendency is to say "yes". The 10-minute or 30-day rule decides whether the decision is reasonable. For small and spontaneous wishes, it helps to wait 10 minutes to see if the wish is still strong. For larger purchases, we should think about it for 30 days and check whether the desire still exists strongly.
Instead of leaving your money in the bank, would you rather invest wisely for the future?

Many people have already had experiences with or at OVB and inspire others.

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