Staying afloat in tough times can mean being prepared even when life is going well. When it comes to money, this can mean building a financial buffer of savings to help keep your head above water.
Yet the ING International Survey Savings 2017, which polled more than 14,000 people in 15 countries, reveals that on average 29% of people in Europe have no savings at all. Nearly three in every 10 adults aged 18+ have nothing in the bank to cover emergencies or other unexpected expenses - let alone treats or special occasions.
Some worse off
But there are differences across countries. Twenty-nine percent of people in Poland admit they have no savings - the average in Europe. Just under a quarter (24%) in the Netherlands have no savings, as does the same proportion in Belgium, France and the UK.
People may be most at risk from unexpected expenses in Romania, where 45% have no savings. Germany has the second highest share without savings after Romania (34%).
At the other end of the scale is Luxembourg, where just 13% have nothing saved - the smallest share in the survey. However, quite a few Luxembourgers "co-hold" - or have debts as well as savings, the results show.
"Safe as houses?"
If saving is hard, why not invest in assets that earn a better rate of return? The ING International Survey Savings 2017 discovers that more than half of those surveyed are unlikely to invest even 10% of savings into financial products or other assets – even if in a situation where they can do so.
Only 17% suggest they may be likely to invest in shares. Many people are not only reluctant to invest in common asset choices, such as shares, bonds or mutual funds, but indicate they believe there is little chance of financial gain from investing.
Overall, savings accounts and fixed-term deposits are the most common asset types across Europe, the USA and Australia - with real estate next.
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This article is related to the ING International Survey: