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Living in Germany: fascination with saving money

Germans not only have been saving more than their UK counterparts, but the deep rooted national habit has more implications than those numbers would reveal […]

A small exhibition recently opened in the German Historical Museum in Berlin all about Germany’s love of saving money. It might have had a mundane sounding title, “Saving – History of a German Virtue”, but it provides an interesting insight into what is a deep-rooted national obsession.

Saving – History of a German Virtue
Exhibition “Saving – History of a German Virtue” © DHM/Siesing

Saving has a long history in German society. The first savings bank opened in 1778 in Hamburg. By 1836, there were more than 300 of these savings banks operating in the then German Confederation.

There is plenty of evidence in the exhibition that the concept of saving was established as a virtue from this period, through the Weimar Republic, which followed World War I, then in the Nazi era and after World War II on both sides of the Berlin Wall. Saving became an essential part of the country’s tax planning, welfare provision and social policies.

Legacy of Saving

The legacy of this virtue has made Germans the top savers in the world. Households consistently saved more than 8% of their disposable income over the last two of decades, according to OECD data. The last time UK households came close to the German savings rate was in 1995. By 2015, German savers keep an equivalent of 9.96% of their disposable income in the country’s 400 savings banks. British — on there other hand — were merely at 0.16%.

Understanding the German obsession with savings is important when one wants to understand German attitudes towards domestic and European policies. For example, since 2012 the main European Central Bank interest rate has been below 1%, and in March 2016 was reduced to 0%. The reason for these low interest rates, along with large programmes of quantitative easing, was to stabilise the European banking sector and to encourage lending, spending and economic recovery.

Read more (from The Conversation) at Germany’s long-standing fascination with saving money | World Economic Forum

By Itamar Medeiros

Originally from Brazil, Itamar Medeiros currently lives in Germany, where he works as Director of Design Strategy at SAP.

Working in the Information Technology industry since 1998, Itamar has helped truly global companies in multiple continents create great user experience through advocating Design and Innovation principles. During his 7 years in China, he promoted the User Experience Design discipline as User Experience Manager at Autodesk and Local Coordinator of the Interaction Design Association (IxDA) in Shanghai.

Itamar holds a MA in Design Practice from Northumbria University (Newcastle, UK), for which he received a Distinction Award for his thesis Creating Innovative Design Software Solutions within Collaborative/Distributed Design Environments.

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