Among former communist European nations, Czechs know best how to manage their money and property, according to a survey that GE Money Bank carried out in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Latvia and Russia.

The survey focused on the way members of individual nations handle money, what is their financial literacy, whether they run into debt and whether they are able to use financial products to their benefit. Czechs got the best grade in the Smart Money Index that GE Money Bank used to compare the financial behaviour of households in individual countries.

Although more than a third of Czechs can hardly make ends meet, it is still the lowest number among the monitored countries. Poland is the worst off in this respect, for 62% of its citizens live a life like this.

Russians and Latvians find it most difficult to save money, while Hungarians were the most thrifty nation in the survey. Czechs are somewhere in the middle, with a quarter of them not keeping track of what is their property and the same number of people having no clear idea of how big their debts are at the moment. The awareness of one’s assets and debts decreases with age in all of the monitored nations.

Most respondents in the survey said they discuss finances with their family members. However, Czechs do so the least frequently (31% of respondents), unlike Romanians who came first with 48%.

On the other hand, almost 50% of Czechs discuss financial issues with their partner, a much bigger number than in Latvia and Russia (31 %).

Trust in consultants

What is significantly different about Czech citizens in the survey is the fact that they believe financial consultants to a much greater extent than the other monitored nations. A total of 26% of Czech respondents said they would follow recommendations by financial consultants, compared with a mere 4% of respondents in Romania.

Women control the family budget in 44% of Czech households, and the same is true for Latvia. In Russia and Hungary, some 70% of women take decisions on family finance.

The survey has revealed that the older we are, the more we let women decide on the family budget – that applies to all of the monitored nations. More than 50% of respondents aged between 50 and 65 years said it was the woman who keeps an eye on expenditures in their family.

Unlike other nations, a mere 7% of Czechs admitted they find their partner’s wealth attractive. A positive answer to this question came from 56% of Hungarian respondents and from 25% of Latvian respondents who were the last but one just ahead of Czechs.

Active money keepers

The survey showed that the largest portion of Czechs (35 %) manage their money actively. These people keep control of their finance and take time to administer their money. “If I was asked how much I spend each month, then, after thinking about it for a minute I would be able to give a relatively accurate answer,” said Marek Houda of consulting company Ligas & Partners.

People in this group save money and manage their savings in a way that brings yields. They do not reject loans and are willing to borrow a reasonable amount of money. “Before I sign any loan contract, I set a maximum installment that I cannot exceed,” said Jan Hainz, head of the PR department at GE Money Bank.

“I have put my money in a real estate. I believe this is the safest investment,” said Michaela Taschnerová, marketing director at Oberbank.

The second most numerous group comprising 27% of Czech respondents are people who prefer security for their money. If they have any savings, they leave the money on a current account or hold it in cash.

In another category, 15% of Czechs “live for the others”. These are mainly older people aged between 50 – 60 years, mostly women, who complain about their current financial situation.

Roughly 14 % of Czech respondents said they only need little money. These include pensioners and people with below-average incomes. Asked if they know how much money they have in their wallets, they provided immediate and very accurate answers. “I left home with five hundred crowns in my wallet. I bought a gift for my brother-in-law and now I have 350 crowns,” said Karla Malá of Prague.

The smallest group of Czechs (9 %) consists of people “living for today” – young people aged 18-29 who are unable to save any money. Štěpán Kříž, 21, of Prague represents this group of respondents. “I don’t care about money too much. If there is some, then I repay my debts and buy colours. If there isn’t any, I find some temporary job or tighten my belt,” said Štěpán Kříž, a freelance painter and graphic designer.


Translated with permission by the Prague Daily Monitor.