Between Mattress and Cushion

Secret Savings

Secret Savings

Poles are rather secretive about their financial life. Sociologists, psychologists and economists are trying to identify and examine the financial habits of Poles. Research shows that economic behaviour is driven by a variety of factors. Professor Dominika Maison in her book “The Pole in the World of Finance” claims that the worse off people around us are, the more satisfied we feel with our own financial situation. The studies show that contented people who feel in control of their lives and actively exercise the power to make things happen are more successful financially than those passive and reliant on fate or luck. What experts find particularly worrying is the attitude of Poles to saving. Statistically, the average Pole has only €3,400 put away, which places Poles near the bottom of the European rankings. Additionally, half of the total savings are owned by just 10% of the population, while 60% of the population have no savings at all. Economists generally agree that a household should have savings equivalent to at least three months income as a so-called financial cushion to buffer the effects of unforeseen events. Meanwhile, instead of securing this financial cushion many Polish people still prefer to keep their money under the mattress. One in five Poles do not have a bank account. Such financial exclusion results from a poor economic education and a significant share in the grey economy, which often implies avoiding banks. Many respondents admit that they do not manage their finances with due care or make long-term financial plans. The inability to plan the household budget is the primary source of difficulties in the timely payment of debts. The second most important reason for financial problems is job loss or other unforseen events. When pressed for cash, most Poles resort to borrowing. The majority of those who have savings say they would be able to live on their savings for two months.

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