8 ways different cultures deal with cash

8 ways different cultures deal with cash

Whether it’s saving, spending or lending, being able to manage one’s finances is an important life skill. But not everyone does it in the same way. Many cultures think outside the box and use creative practices to achieve the same results.

This beautifully illustrated guide from Budget Direct lets you in on some of the most interesting things that people around the world do with their money, in their original language, to give you an idea of how things work elsewhere.

Caja de Ahorros (Panama)

Between presents, meals and travel, big celebrations like Christmas can be expensive for families. To make sure the holiday doesn’t break the bank, people in Panama pay monthly instalments into a caja de ahorros throughout the year. When the Christmas season arrives, they receive the full amount to spend on whatever makes their holiday special.

Geld Stinkt Nicht (Germany)

By all accounts, Germany is a cash society. Germans use cash for about 80 percent of their purchases, shunning both credit cards and personal debt.

While the reasons may be rooted in the country’s history, their “cash doesn’t stink” mentality lets them keep a physical connection with cash – and stay more aware of how they’re spending it.

Zakat (Pakistan)

Zakat is a rather generous giving practice, and in Pakistan it’s mandated by law. The principle requires everyone to donate at least 2.5% of their income to charities and those who are less fortunate.

It’s said to teach self-discipline and free those practicing it from becoming obsessed with accumulating material possessions.

Harambee (Kenya)

In countries where getting loans to invest in a business can be next to impossible, communities have started to form their own systems of credit. In Kenya, this has seen the rise of harambee, a community-led initiative whereby participants pool their money together and use it for a project the community needs.

Allowance (USA)

Often (though not always) linked to the completion of household chores, a child’s allowance is their first encounter with the concept of financial responsibility. While different parents take different approaches, the practice of giving an allowance helps teach children that they must work hard and save their earnings to get the things they want.



Kuri Kalyanam (India)

 Everybody loves a good party, and what better way to encourage people to donate money to you than by throwing a huge one? In south-western India, kuri kulyanam parties are thrown to raise money for big expenses, like hosting a wedding or building a house.

Each invited guest is expected to make a cash donation – but there’s a catch. When it’s the host’s turn to attend the return party, they’re expected to give twice what they received.

Harisma (Greece)


A wedding is a joyous occasion, as it marks the beginning of the happy couple setting out on the journey of life together. To help them on their way, Greek wedding guests take turns pinning cash onto the bride and groom’s clothes while they dance.

It’s a potentially dangerous method of giving, perhaps, but worth it in the end.



Susu (Jamaica)

 Susu is practiced in many Caribbean countries, including Jamaica, and their emigrant communities in the USA and Canada. Built on a bond of trust, the money collected is given to one person to spend on a big purchase, like a car or investment in education.

It allows people who might not have access to formal financial institutions to save and borrow money.


It’s pretty clear: the ways that people around the world handle cash are as varied as the countries themselves. What unique money practice does your country, community or family take part in?


Sawani, M. & Patterson, S. (2001) Informal Saving Practices in Developing Countries. Journal of International Business and Cultural Studies

Pymnts. (2017) Behind Germany’s Obsession With Cash. pymnts.com

BBC. (2009) Zakat: Charity. bbc.com

Kirkham, E. (2017) 5 Smart Money Tips From Around the World. gobankingrates.com

Lieber, R. (2015) You’re Doing Allowance Wrong. slate.com

Integra. (2017) History of Chit. integrasoftware.in

Rigou, V. (2009) Wedding Customs in Greece. oiss.rice.edu

PRI. (2009) Grassroots savings plan helps many in tough times. pri.org

This post was brought to you by Budget Direct Life Insurance

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