8 Ways Different Cultures Deal With Cash

Saturday, April 28, 2018, 6:00 PM | Leave Comment

Most of what you believe about healthy personal finance practices you’ve learned almost subconsciously from the culture in which you were brought up.

Far more complex than ‘capitalism vs. communism,’ our very attitudes are shaped by little signals in our environment, from commercials we don’t pay attention to but hear anyway to the jokes that are made in movies and on TV.

Many of these messages – and the things your parents and teachers taught you – have your best wishes in mind. Others are intended to manipulate you into spending and saving in a way that promotes big business rather than your personal economic security.

Still others are passed along without much thought – they’re simply part of the culture. They may or may not be good ideas, but you probably take them for granted.

Anybody who tells you they have the ideal system for dealing with cash is wrong. That’s because different methods work for different people in different circumstances.

But learning about how different cultures think about and deal with money can be a great way of loosening some of your own assumptions and shaking off the unhelpful ideas you’ve acquired along the way.

  1. Caja de Ahorros (Panama)

    For all cultures that celebrate Christmas, actually paying for it can be a challenge. In lots of places around the world, that can mean maxing out your credit cards and not worrying about any of it until January, but in Panama they have had the tradition of a caja de ahorros, which means paying monthly installments into an account they can access in time for the holidays.

  2. Geld Stinkt Nicht (Germany)

    This delightfully-named German tradition literally means ‘cash doesn’t stink’ and is a rejection of the modern practice of going cashless and racking up personal debts. Instead, they focus on paying for things with real money, using cash for around 80% of purchases.

  3. Zakat (Pakistan)

    Most of us try to give money to charity when we can (or at least tell ourselves that we do), but in Pakistan they have a more formal and legal procedure called Zakat, where 2.5% of everybody’s income has to be donated to charities.

  4. Harambee (Kenya)

    Working together is the theme of Harambee, a Kenyan tradition of avoiding borrowing from banks to get things done and instead drawing upon the spirit of the community to fund and work on essential projects as a collective.

  5. Allowance (USA)

    Teaching children about money and how to be responsible for their own finances is at the core of the allowances that American parents give their young. Whether the children actually spend theirs wisely or not, of course, is often another matter.

  6. Kuri Kalyanam (India)

    In India, raising money to pay for big life events like buying a house or getting married is done in much more entertaining way than most other countries. They do it by hosting a party and getting all the guests to donate cash, with the expectation that the recipients this time will double that amount when it’s their turn to donate back.

  7. Harisma (Greece)

    Cash and weddings go hand-in-hand in Greece more literally than the usual ways. Harisma is the practice of guests pinning money onto the bride and groom on the dancefloor as their way of helping them prepare for their lives together.

  8. Susu (Jamaica)

    Another form of community fundraising and wealth distribution, this Caribbean tradition of Susu means that all the members of the group pay a regular amount in until the next meeting when one member will take the money to pay for something they need. To make it fair, this cycle continues until everybody has had theirs.

Sounds inspiring? Check out these new illustrations which delve into the aforementioned cultural practices and many more. It’s time to change the way you think about money.

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