Money savvy tips from around the world

There are interesting ways that other cultures and people manage their money and we could learn a thing or two from them

How healthy are your finances? What are your common practices when it comes to your money? Managing our finances is a life skill that most of us pick up along the way and some might still be straggling behind. Saving, spending, budgeting and more are part and parcel of money management and different people have different ways of doing it. Other cultures around the world manage their money in interesting ways and this could teach us a thing or two.


#1 Caja de Ahorros (Panama)

Malaysia is no stranger to celebrations and as a multicultural society, we often celebrate multiple festivals a year. What this means is extra spending! However, there’s something called caja de ahorros which in Spanish means ‘savings bank’. In Panama, people pay monthly instalments into their caja de ahorros throughout the year and receive the full amount to spend during the Christmas season.

This is similar to having a sinking fund which is a fund where you put money into it over a period of time and when the time comes, you’ll have the money to pay. Sinking funds can be for recurring annual payments such as car maintenance, car insurance, travel, anything really!


#2 Geld Stinkt Nicht (Germany)

This translates to ‘cash doesn’t stink’ and this is because in Germany, most people still use cash instead of cards for daily expenses. Credit cards and personal debt is also something that they try to avoid. Managing your money by using cash establishes a physical link to your money because you are aware that your cash is dwindling and know that it will run out if you’re not careful with your spending.

If you are someone who struggles to stick to a budget, try this. During the beginning of the month, after you’ve taken care of all your bills and commitments, set aside a portion for your savings. Afterward, the remainder should be for your living expenses. Divide it into four, for the four weeks in a month. Set a day in every week to withdraw this amount in cash and this amount is what you have to spend for the week!

Zakat Conceptual Icon

#3 Zakat(Pakistan)

Now this is something that some of us in Malaysia practise. However, the difference between Malaysia and Pakistan when it comes to zakat is that in Pakistan, there is a 2.5% annual deduction from personal bank accounts on the first day of Ramadan. This money collected is to be used for poverty relief. Of course, this deduction is only for people who owns or possesses assets equal or more than nisab (the value of 612.32 grams of silver which fluctuates depending on the market).

#4 Kuri Kalyanam (India)

In southwestern India, a Kuri Kalyanam is a fundraising party that’s thrown to ask for donations. These funds could be for a wedding or even building a house. Every guest who is invited is expected to make a cash donation. This sounds like an amazing way of getting donations – just throw a huge party, sounds like such fun! However, there’s a catch where if the host is invited

to another fundraising party, they’re expected to give twice of what they received!


#5 Respecting your money (Japan)

Much like the Germans, in Japan, cash is king. Notes and coins in Japan are kept clean and crisp. Their respect for money is also reflected when giving gifts in the form of cash. New bills are used and placed in pretty envelopes when presenting the cash gift at weddings or funerals. It may sound a little strange but hear us out. Treating your cash with respect would remind you of its value and you’re more aware of it being in your wallet. Being more appreciative of its value could also help you resist the urge to spend!