Money management is an essential life skill, but there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to this. We may all lean towards achieving similar results, but the path to getting there doesn’t only vary from person to person but also from one culture to another.
With this in mind, would you be interested in learning some money tips from around the world?
Here’s a guide to give you an idea of how people from around the world deal with money. Dive in to learn a thing or two about how you can save and manage your finances better.
China: Save, save, save
While the Chinese are often considered some of the biggest spenders in the world, they are also famous for their money-saving habits. In fact, China boasts one of the world’s highest household savings rates at 45%.
The high saving rates are partially due to a lack of public services and developed welfare programs. The Chinese saving culture also focuses on taking care of one’s elders and planning for the future. This can include building an emergency or sinking fund to cover things like children’s education or unexpected health costs.
Although governments in Western countries often have more developed public services, a rainy day fund is something everyone should have regardless of the country.
Being able to visualise and control exactly how much money you’re letting go of means there’s a lot of thought that goes into spending and saving. Kakeibo – the Japanese art of saving – is one of the major influences on money habits in Japan.
The word kakeibo means “household finance ledger”. It’s more than a century-old practice that is used to set savings goals and achieve them through mindful spending. Kakeibo is practised at the start of every month when you identify your goals and reflect on how much you should save, as well as what to do to reach the goal. Because you write down everything by hand in your kakeibo, you will find it easier to visualise all your in and out-goings.
The religious practice of giving charity, called Zakat is an obligation and one of the five pillars of the Islamic faith. While in many Islamic nations Zakat is left to each individual, Pakistan has written this in their law. The principle requires everyone to donate at least 2.5% of their income to charities and those who are less fortunate.
Zakat has proven to be a model for redistributing wealth to the poor and underserved. In addition to this, it’s said to teach self-discipline and free those practising it from becoming obsessed with accumulating material possessions.
India: Kuri Kalyanam
Everybody loves a good party, and what better way to encourage people to donate money to you than by throwing a huge one?
Kuri Kayanam is a micro-financing scheme that originated in India (it’s also called payattu in some regions). It’s a form of an event or party to help the organizer financially cover a significant life event such as a wedding or buying a house.
Hosts would send out invitations to guests with “kuri kalyanam” explicitly stated to be conducted for a specific date and time. Each invited guest is expected to make a cash donation. But there’s a catch! When it’s the host’s turn to attend the return party, they’re expected to give twice what they received.
In countries where getting loans to invest in a business can be very difficult, communities have started to form their own systems of credit. In Kenya, this has seen the rise of harambee (Swahili for “all pull together”). Harambee is a popular tradition of community improvement. It works through a group contribution to a common cause or goal that benefits the community as a whole. One example of this type of goal could be education.
When the community crowdfund money, everyone holds each other accountable. This also helps them to see the tangible effects of their investments.
Latin America: Tanda
The notion of communal financial planning is not foreign in Latin America either. Tanda is a communal money-saving method that is popular in Latin American countries and the Caribbean.
Tandas are a notable money custom, especially in Mexican culture. While it might be known by different names in different countries, the basic underlying idea is the same: when people work together to save, everyone benefits.
These savings pools are an incentivised savings system in which all participants pay a set amount once a month into a pot. The pooled money is then awarded to a different participant each round.
For people who struggle to save, tanda offers two main benefits over a savings account. Firstly, it keeps money out of convenient reach. Secondly, it provides an important social and community incentive to save each month by paying in.
Panama: Caja de Ahorros
As we all know, big festivities like Christmas can be very expensive. From gifts and travel to decor and food, there are various festive expenses to consider. To make sure the holiday doesn’t break the bank, people in Panama pay monthly instalments into a Caja de Ahorros (Spanish for “savings bank”) throughout the year. When the festive season arrives, they withdraw the full amount to spend on whatever makes their holiday special.
Caja de ahorros is therefore a great example of a sinking fund that can be beneficial for many of us. It allows you to regularly set aside a small amount of money for a future expense, such as a holiday or a new car.
Germany: Geld Stinkt Nicht
The fear of debt has caused Germans to rely on cash for generations. “Cash only” is a phrase that is common throughout the country. In fact, as many as 76% of Germany’s retail purchases are paid with cash.
Interestingly, the German word for debt – ‘Schuld’ – is the same as the German word for ‘guilt’. This has caused Germany to be a leader in cash transactions, even as it has risen to be a world economic power.
While the reasons may be rooted in the country’s history, the Geld Stinkt Nicht mentality (“cash doesn’t stink”) lets them keep a physical connection with cash – and stay more aware of how they’re spending it.
Giving a child an allowance is a great way to teach kids about finances. It helps them understand responsibility and the consequences of their choices. When tied to household chores, they learn the relationship between work and earning.
This approach is widely used in Western countries to prepare kids for adulthood. No chores, no allowance, no money – it instills financial awareness and the importance of contributing to earn rewards.
Summary: Money tips from around the world
The ways that people in different countries manage their finances are as varied as the countries and cultures themselves. Therefore, it’s great that we can learn different money tips from around the world to help manage our own finances better.
What unique money practice does your country or community take part in?