“Saving is seen as the morally right thing to do. It is more than a simple financial strategy”

Germany isn’t all Currywurst and Lederhosen. It’s also strict financial administration, and unexpected taxes. Most Germans would reject that accusation, but the notion that austerity — whether in private or in government — is something specifically. It is a country that takes pride in the solidity of its public finances, in balanced budgets and high savings rates, in the fact that society as a whole knows how to delay gratification, tighten its belt and wait for jam tomorrow. More often than not, the habit is acquired young .German households save about 10 per cent of their disposable income, twice as much as the average EU or American.

Germans have been obsessed with savings and here’s why-

1.The world’s first saving bank-

The world’s first savings bank was founded in Hamburg in 1778. Inspired by Enlightenment ideas of social progress, the institution was seen initially as a tool to help the criticality of the poor section of the society .By saving small bits of their little  earnings, they might one day be in a position to pay for the education of their children, and to soften the financial blow of old age and illness. That motivation, however, would soon be replaced by something altogether different which led them to more savings.

2. Be a good citizen-

The idea—rooted in the Enlightenment—that a responsible, moral person should put money aside to take care of himself and his family as part of the common good of society was seeded in the national consciousness in the early 1800s banks began visiting schools, getting children hooked on saving early in life and have started inculcating the importance of savings since then.

3.Saving through thick and thin

Saving has also been associated with hard times in Germany. Germans were encouraged to buy war bonds to help the country during World War I. The savings mentality endured through post-war austerity through the hyperinflation of the Weimar Republic—even after savings were wiped out in 1923, when the German currency became worthless .When Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933, he bombarded Germans with propaganda that frugality and saving was their patriotic duty, and could counteract “Jewish finance capital.” Savings skyrocketed, and were used to finance the war effort, while Jewish people had their savings appropriated by the Nazi regime.

4.Industrialization a key factor-

As the population increased and poverty became more widespread, banks were presented as benevolent entities designed to help the poor help themselves. Workers who set aside their earnings weren't only considered morally superior to those who gambled or drank it away; they were also less likely to revolt.

This is the starting point for Muschalla's argument that the German habit of saving has its roots in a form of social control. "In France they revolted and in Germany they saved," Muschalla says. These national habits, he believes, have endured to this day. If you look at labour disputes, in France you see workers up in arms. In Germany, they're proud if they have the two sides sitting across from each other at a table," he says.


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