How Money’s Handled Around The World (Fascinating!)


Ever wondered how people save money around the world? Or take out loans/mortgages, get credit scores, pay for college, or even invest in retirement?

No? Oh, wrong blog sorry…

Here you go.

For all others, feast your eyes on these financial factoids spanning from Singapore to Denmark, Brazil, Guatemala, Germany, New Zealand, to the oui sexy France! Some of this is awesome, and some of this is completely the opposite of.

But on the plus side, my week of email purging is now over and I’ve completed the one page mission! Woo! Which also led to me finding all these gems again – double woo!

Take it away, flags…

Investing money in Singapore

singapore flag

We start with a conversation I had with someone over email… WOW.

“Here in Singapore we only have a single retirement account called Central Provident Fund (CPF), but it is really a defined contribution plan (unlike a defined benefits plan in most western countries). Every month 20% gets deducted from my pay check (employee contribution) while my company matches another 17% (employer matches 85% of our own contribution), so every employee here in Singapore has mandatory savings of at least 37% every month. Plus, I save another 30% out of my leftover (take home) pay check, so essentially I save total 67% of my monthly pay check.”

Can you imagine that? If everyone was *forced* to save 37% of their income at a MINIMUM? Oh man… our economy here would shut down and everyone would become rich, haha…


“Our retirement money in the CPF earns risk-free return of 3.2% perpetually, but we have the option of using part of the money to invest in stocks if we choose to.”

So not only does the gov’t force you to save, but it gives you a *guaranteed* rate of return too? Incredible! Sure you can get much better returns in the markets or elsewhere and of course inflation will wipe out a lot (all?) of that, but still. Guaranteed is better than no guarantee :)

Income tax in Singapore is almost negligible for middle income folks like us, for me and wife we probably pay about 0.2% of income tax annually per person (this is not a typing error) on average for the past 10 years since 2005. (Update: My friend says their tax rate is so low because of government rebates for having 2 kids and supporting aging parents. He says the average rate is around 4-5% for people.)

How are we not all moved out and living there now???? I don’t know what the downsides of living there are yet, but so far count me in :) He only told me one scary thing, though a whopper it was at that:

“The Singapore government imposes high taxes on car ownership because we are a small country with limited land, thus a Toyota Camry costs a mind boggling S$200,000 (USD $142,000) after interest and fees. Yet there are people taking out car loans and “happily” using it for their daily commute.”

OH. MY. GOSH. My piece of crap caddy would be like $100,000 over there! Haha… I’d need to invest in a new pair of walking shoes :)

And, lastly,

“Living in modern & fast paced Singapore, one would need lots of emotional discipline not to follow the crowd. Young people (under 50 y/o) easily incur up to about 10 years of their annual salary on their million dollars apartments and ridiculously priced cars. So we are considered weirdos in this city of opulence and show-offs.”

Welcome to the club, brotha… Why do you think we all congregate online to talk about this stuff? :)

Credit scores, loans, and debt in Denmark

denmark flag

This was left on an article here about credit scores two years ago… Particularly on whether or not it matters if you never plan on taking on debt?

“In Denmark we don’t use credit scores. If you rent an apartment or need a loan, you provide them with your recent income statements. If it’s a big loan, like a mortgage, they also require tax documents and a budget.

If you don’t pay your bills, creditors can have you signed up in a register which will make future loans almost impossible until the debt has been paid.”

They require a budget!! YES!!! We all know credit scores don’t really tell you whether you can afford anything or not – just that you’re great at paying your bills! – so factoring that in would do people a WORLD of a favor… And again, would also scare the pants off our economy here! Though investment bankers sure would have a ton more to invest for people, haha…

I also love that there’s a “list” people go on when they get themselves in trouble… reminds me of those old debtor prisons from back in the day, though thankfully more modernized :)

Thx for the info, Pengepugeren! Your comment finally paid off!

The French approach to debt

france flag

These nuggets come from Pauline Paquin’s blog,, who says they do things differently there either because their grandparents lived through WWII and are generally very cautious with their money – passing on their frugality and good money management values over the years – OR it’s their system itself that makes it hard to borrow money and get yourself in trouble…

Either way, here are some of the clips that caught my attention:

“Whenever you take a mortgage, a loan or open a line of credit, the bank checks out your income. You have to earn at least 3 times the loan repayment amount, net. If you earn €1,000, you can take a €333 mortgage. If you earn €1,000 and already pay €350 in rent, you can’t borrow anything. If you make €1,000 and have a €200 mortgage, you can take consumer loan as long as the repayment is less than €133 a month.

This criteria is very strict and limits the number of bankruptcies. It also makes it a nightmare to get a mortgage those days, with the price of real estate in Paris… Often your parents have to cosign your mortgage, and at 35 it is quite the experience.”

On student loans – which are “very rare”:

“If you can’t afford to study, you’ll get a scholarship. Public university costs roughly $2,000 a year, business school can be up to $20,000 a year and that is one of the rare occasions when students would take on a loan. All business schools have work/study agreements with major companies, like I did, the company paid my tuition and I worked for them in return…”

BOOM! Education AND a job rolled up in one – gotta love that. Unless you realize midway through that you actually hate the avenue you’re going down and then want to change, eh? How does that work? I switched from international business to graphic design in college and I reckon I would have had a problem, haha…

On credit/debit cards:

“The vast majority of people in France own a “carte de crédit”. That means credit card, but in reality it works like a debit card with an overdraft on the account… We get charged around €40, a cool $50 per year, for the privilege of owning one such card. A debit card! There are 60 million French people, I’ll let you do the math…”

Probably a LOT cheaper than handing those 60 million people a *real* credit card though! It’s scary how normal it is to pay HUNDREDS of dollars in interest every month here in the U.S… I’m sure any of them would gladly swap it out for a $50 charge to have their credit cards swapped out. (Oh wait, they can (and for free) but they don’t! Womp womp.)

On actual credit cards in France:

“Since almost no one goes into debt and pays 19.99% APRs on their cards, we don’t get travel rewards, hotel points, cashback. Zilch. Just a yearly fee, that usually includes purchase protection and identity theft cover, period.”

Again, a good price to pay for the lack of debt :) I’d imagine you can “hack” a lot more out of travel with all that cash you’d be saving too instead of throwing it away! (*Gets hit by tomatoes by travel hackers reading this*)

She also gets into car loans, credit scores, and store credit cards too in her article (you can read the whole thing here if interested: The French Approach to Debt), but the overall message is loud and clear: The French hate debt.

Real Estate in Guatemala

guatemala flag

Being the world traveler/entrepreneur this same Pauline is, she also shares insight into other countries she hustles in too… Here are some quick notes on Guatemalan real estate investing:

  • Most people pay in cash for properties, allowing you to get a hefty discount off them
  • In some cases you can negotiate as much as 40-50% off the asking price for a home (!!!)
  • It is hard to resell an older property – everyone wants new ones
  • You often declare a much lower sales price – a sneaky maneuver so the seller doesn’t have to pay much capital gain tax, and the buyers don’t have to pay much property tax. Usually this is 60% when you buy new and as little as 10% if you buy land to build on. (Be careful of getting caught though!)

She also drops 7 more tips in her article if you want to check it out. I just plucked out the juicy ones :)

Student loans in New Zealand

new zealand flag

This nugget comes from Emma from, which was dropped on my post about inheriting some money years ago and using it all for my kid’s college fund.

How would you like this?

“I’m reading a lot lately about the costs of college in the US. I’m from New Zealand where it costs around 7k per year to study, but we get interest free student loans (so long as we don’t leave the country, interest applies when we move overseas for longer than 6 months). It makes sense that you would save and invest for such a huge expense and big ups to you for being willing to front it for your kids.

We are personally saving to buy our son his first house so he can go to university and rent spare rooms to other students (we plan to buy close to our cities Uni) and use that income to pay his student loan back. Since it’s interest free there is low incentive to pay it back quickly!”

So cheap! So FREE!!! And of course, so smart to house hustle like that ;) Thanks for the note, Emma! Your son is two years closer to college now since you left this! Haha…

Student Tuition in Germany

germany flag

But do you know what’s better than $7,000/year tuition? $0,000 tuition! Which Germany granted to everyone a year and a half ago – BOOM.


“In a progressive, even bold move, Germany has not only abolished tuition for Germans, but for international students as well. However, don’t go jumping for joy and planning your move to Germany quite yet. Germany is asking for at least conversational fluency in German for all prospective international students.”

The reason for abolishing this tuition? Because “[tuition fees] discourage young people who do not have a traditional academic family background from taking up study.” #Yup

Credit Card APRs in Brazil

brazil flag

Lastly, I came across this lovely piece by last year on how ridiculous the credit card rates are getting in Brazil. I can’t even…

“In September, the average credit card APR reached 414.3%, according to the latest data from the central bank of Brazil… That’s an increase of about 11 percentage points from the average APR in August and about 83 percentage points from September 2014, when it was 312%…

If you take a year to repay a credit card or loan balance with a 414% APR, you end up paying more than four times your original balance.”

And you thought you had it bad!

Hope this gives you something to talk about while out at the holiday bbqs today :)

Of course, none of this tells the *complete* story on how money’s handled around the world, but it’s an interesting perspective no less, and one quite fun to compare with because we’re big fat nerds like that.

Remember though – it all comes down to your *own* doing regardless of the government/ structure around us. We’re the ones in full control here, so if you want something bad enough, go out and make it happen!

Bonne journée, mi amors!

PS: Which flag was your favorite? I’m digging that Guatemala one…

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  1. Francesca - From Pennies to Pounds May 30, 2016 at 7:29 AM

    Our friends moved from the UK to Dubai (where it is tax free) and it’s a criminal offence to leave the country whilst in debt. So if you have a car on finance, you cannot leave with country with the car, if you have not paid it off. They also don’t have a bankruptcy law, and there’s various other things they are very strict on regarding debt.

    1. J. Money May 30, 2016 at 11:36 AM

      What??? That’s wild!

    2. Stockbeard June 2, 2016 at 1:45 PM

      I’ve read about that before, in a “mildly” clickbait article about abandoned luxury cars in Dubai: people had left the country and their ferraris behind when they got bankrupt, to avoid triggering the “illegal” thingy

      1. J. Money June 6, 2016 at 12:46 PM


  2. Kalie @ Pretend to Be Poor May 30, 2016 at 7:46 AM

    So interesting! Thanks for sharing these. I am fascinated by the anti-debt sentiment of some countries. It’s hard to imagine compared to the U.S. where it is normal, and even considered weird and questionable to not be in debt! We are really hesitating about whether to share when we become debt-free, and I think that reveals something really wrong in our culture!

    1. J. Money May 30, 2016 at 11:38 AM

      For real! You know you have to do it on your blog though as we HERE eat this $hit up :) And you will be a God for a day online, haha…

    2. Stockbeard June 2, 2016 at 1:49 PM

      Kalie, yup. As a French expat in the US myself I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the concept of debt. I’ll have to admit that blogs talking about “getting out of debt” do not talk to me at all, and my natural reaction is still to ask “why did you go into debt in the first place?”

  3. John C @ Action Economics May 30, 2016 at 7:54 AM

    Singapore sounds fantastic, I would assume they have a really great public transportation system with the high cost of car ownership there. It’s hard to imagine employers giving such generous matches.

    1. Ken May 30, 2016 at 1:54 PM

      Oh yes, the public transit in Singapore is wonderful. Since it’s such a small country you get trains in most places and then buses elsewhere and everything is cheap. We’re going back this summer for a few days at the tail end of our 4 week around the world vacation.

      1. J. Money June 2, 2016 at 8:31 AM

        Around the world??!!!! NICE!

  4. Lindsay @ The Notorious D.E.B.T. May 30, 2016 at 8:28 AM

    Really interesting!
    One thing I’ve always wondered about in the finance world is loans and banking in the Muslim world. They’re not allowed to charge interest, so how does that work? What’s the incentive for the bankers to loan money then? Planet Money did a story about it a while ago, but they didn’t really explain it that well (or I missed that part…). Regardless, it would make a super interesting blog post!

    1. J. Money May 30, 2016 at 11:39 AM


      Any Muslim $$ bloggers out there reading this right now??? Please?? :)

      1. Hannah May 30, 2016 at 4:56 PM

        Not a muslim, but I knew a guy who worked at the African Development Center in Minneapolis that works with mostly Somali Muslims, and they lend money in a different sort of way. (here’s the link- you could totally reach out and learn much more than I have to say, but the ADC is largely responsible for all “lending” that led developing the part of Minneapolis where I used to live)

        This is what I remember, though I might be incorrect on some point. The verse about interest in the Quran transaltes to something like, “Got permits trade, but he doesn’t permit interest”

        Basically, many muslims view the translation of interest (Riba) as something that grows on its own, so traditional lending is out of the question, but profit from the sale of money (currency) is okay.

        So the way that business loans operate is that a bank buys a product (say inventory for a clothing shop, or chairs for a barber shop or something), and then sells it to the business owner at a profit (say 10%), and the business owner pays the bank in monthly installments over the course of one year. It’s effectively a 10% loan, but it is not charging interest.

        Islamic compliant mortgages are weird because the bank buys the house, the title to the house goes to a trust, and then the house dweller buys a percentage of the house each month in a way that exactly follows an interest amortization schedule. The difference between this and a traditional mortgage is that the only asset that the trust can seize in the event of delinquincy is the house. Also, some Muslim law scholars frown on this.

        The most crazy thing of all is that there are Muslim Multi-millionaires who will never own a bond, and who forbid their banks from paying interest (it seems that stocks are okay).

        1. J. Money May 31, 2016 at 11:25 AM

          So so fascinating… and creative!

  5. The Green Swan May 30, 2016 at 8:35 AM

    Wow crazy how different it is country to country. And the French mortgage market… Insane!

  6. Rachel @TheLatteBudget May 30, 2016 at 9:00 AM

    Whoa! Some crazy and amazing differences. Especially in Brazil! I can’t even imagine that sort of APR.

    1. Jover May 30, 2016 at 11:04 AM

      I have to believe that it highly discourages carrying any sort of balance, though.
      Think of the money people would have if they didn’t have debt to service, especially our “manageable” 15-25% APRs on credit cards that so many people carry.

      1. J. Money May 30, 2016 at 11:41 AM

        Yeah, that would be an interesting study actually if it hasn’t been done yet (and I guarantee it has!). Though my guess is that it would help middle class people and up save more but make it worse for those less fortunate? People tend to do whatever it takes to eat/survive regardless of the implications :(

  7. Brian @DebtDiscipline May 30, 2016 at 9:09 AM

    Interesting stuff. We could learn a thing or two. I like all the different takes on college educations/student loans.

  8. Tara May 30, 2016 at 9:09 AM

    Not exactly related but 60 Minutes had a fascinating segment on M Pesa, a digital form of banking big in Kenya and slowly spreading to developing world. Basically, it enables exchange of currency through mobile phone secure SMS and internet. For areas where banks don’t exist (and therefore cash is difficult to obtain) it has made getting paid and spending money much easier (80% of Kenyans have a mobile phone). It’s sort of like Android Pay on steroids, as while Android Pay requires a bank account attached, M Pesa is the actual bank. It seems to have done great things for unbanked areas in Kenya and the low income population as a whole. You should look up the segment if you’re interested. :)

    1. J. Money May 30, 2016 at 11:43 AM

      Love that!! I’ve been hearing about similar things as well – especially around mobile phones – and it’s freakin’ incredible how much good technology can do.

  9. Apathy Ends May 30, 2016 at 10:04 AM

    Wish my company would match just 6% of my 401k – if they matched 85% of what I contributed it would make this whole retire early thing a lot easier!

  10. PhysicianOnFIRE May 30, 2016 at 10:08 AM

    Thanks for sharing those insights. Fascinating!

    In Jamaica, mortgage loans are uncommon, which is why you see half-finished homes with rebar sticking up out of the cinder blocks. People buy their construction materials paycheck by paycheck, and finish the house over years rather than months.


    1. J. Money May 30, 2016 at 11:45 AM

      Wha???? That’s incredible!! I think I REALLY like that actually. And I’ve gotta believe you’re motivation would skyrocket with each check so you don’t all that $$$ with incomplete homes?? Would be a helluva project management system going on though haha… At least if they use builders there managing hundreds of homes at once :)

    2. Giovina May 30, 2016 at 4:08 PM

      I was hoping someone would mention this! I visited last year and I found out that this is how houses are built, and I thought that was such an interesting way to do it. I’m not sure if it’s better than what we do here, but at least they own their whole house, or whatever part has been built to date.

      1. PhysicianOnFIRE May 30, 2016 at 10:47 PM

        Yeah, I think it’s commendable in a way. The downside is all the unfinished homes that look like they were abandoned during construction. In fact, they typically remain under construction, have been, and may still be for years!

        1. Karlene May 31, 2016 at 6:31 AM

          As a Jamaican who had a neighbor with a partially unfinished home for several years I can say that in my neighborhood that was rare.

          I wonder if maybe the residents with unfinished homes in Jamaica and elsewhere are like those of us in this country with debt (of any kind). In either case we did not plan things out properly. The main difference between the residents with unfinished homes and those of us with debt is one is more visible.

          1. J. Money May 31, 2016 at 11:28 AM

            Thanks for jumping in Karlene! Going over now to check out your blog :)

  11. Bob May 30, 2016 at 10:35 AM

    So just to be clear, now everyone in Germany is paying the cost for some random guy from the US to go to school? Building maintenence, professor’s time, etc. all cost money. Seems like a way to avoid personal responsibility for your own future and foist it on the German people while giving the government more control of life. #Nope

    1. Tara May 30, 2016 at 11:15 AM

      Germany does this because a majority of the foreigners who attend university there stay and work after graduation, providing tax income to the country and bettering the economy with educated workers (Americans are staying too). For the present moment, it works.

      1. Bob June 4, 2016 at 7:18 PM

        Love how all these blogs are run by liberals who immediately stomp on any opinion that differs from their own world view.

        1. J. Money June 6, 2016 at 12:53 PM

          I’m guessing that refers to the comment I deleted of yours? ;)

          Would have kept it if “molesting of women” hadn’t been dropped…

  12. Chris @ Flipping A Dollar May 30, 2016 at 11:14 AM

    Jealous of that cheap education! Mine wasn’t but it was very worth it. Not true for a lot of other people in our country. It is interesting how the US struggles with a lot of issues that smaller countries don’t. I can’t tell how much of it is self imposed because of imagined problems. Would free state education work here? Who knows unless we try it!

  13. Michelle May 30, 2016 at 11:27 AM

    Love this post! This is super interesting, especially the high savings rate of the first one.

  14. Linda May 30, 2016 at 11:57 AM

    Wow. My jaw dropped when I read about Singapore. Mandatory savings of 37%?? That. Is. Awesome!

  15. Justin May 30, 2016 at 12:41 PM

    Very interesting read, J$. One of the most interesting money articles I’ve seen in a while, actually!

    I’ll add the Cambodian money management methods I learned from my parents in law (who escaped Cambodia literally dodging bullets the whole way out through the jungle).

    They don’t trust the government or banks really. Wealth is stored in gold. 24k jewelry primarily. And the woman of the house usually has it hidden in a purse that she carries everywhere she goes. That junk gets heavy. So if you ever want to make a few hundred thousand dollars, find your nearest Cambodian house party and snatch a bunch of old ladies’ purses (j/k; not responsible for lengthy prison sentences and/or retaliation from angry Cambodian grandchildren).

    We did get my mother in law to put some in a bank account but it’s barely keeping up with inflation (yielding 1-1.75% today between money market and CD rates).

    1. J. Money May 31, 2016 at 11:35 AM

      Oh wowwwww – that is incredible… I can’t even imagine holding that much gold, no less carrying it everywhere! I feel liked I’d bury it or hid it somewhere, but then again I have no idea what it’s like to be fearful of the government or even have to escape for my life :( So glad they made it out! We’re such in our own little bubbles over here to even fathom that type of life.

  16. Ms. Montana May 30, 2016 at 1:19 PM

    Tuition in Germany was never all that expensive. Before they changed it most of my friends paid about 500 Euro a semester. Because it’s so challenging for American’s to learn German at a high enough level, there is very little competition for the number of allotted American spots. Making it much easier for an American to get into the German Uni than equally qualified Germans. I don’t know if we ever fill the amount of spots given us. 2 year of high school German just doesn’t cut it. =) I took 5 semesters in college, while living in Germany. And my German is total crap.
    What I found really interesting while living there, was that because parents didn’t need to save for their kids Uni, they saved for their kids to buy a home. The government has a 529 style program for parents to help their kids save for their first home, with govt bonds. Housing is really pricey, so some parents started saving when their kids were little.

    1. J. Money May 31, 2016 at 11:37 AM

      That’s pretty damn cool! And totally makes sense re: German fluency. I learn something new about you every week it seems :)

      1. Ms. Montana June 1, 2016 at 12:36 AM

        The game 2 truths and a lie: I rock that. =)

  17. Rami May 30, 2016 at 4:27 PM

    An Egyptian who just moved to Lyon, France earlier this year….coming from a very cash dominant but also highly regulated ( to save people from bankruptcy), Egypt like France also imposes a limit of 30-35% as total debt vs. income, doesn’t matter the breakdown of these 35%…but we have credit cards ( APRs around 14-15%) and it is still a virgin market.

    Only 2-3M bank accounts for a 90+M population…:) I also used my credit card ( to manage cash flow) getting married, big purchases etc…and it was a never ending debt..sometimes reaching 2-3 times my monthly salary and it is just crazy how it always goes back up.

    Now in France, I only have a debit card ( HSBC said they stopped issuing credit cards as it is very high in APR and taking a loan is 12% cheaper in interest rate!!) so now, I am living just from my cash account from paychecks and it feels great, I know exactly what is going where and have no interest payments and I am a happy man!

    Still didn’t explore the big purchases, real estate etc…but will keep you posted!

    1. J. Money May 31, 2016 at 11:42 AM

      Good for you for finding a better system! People swear by the cash-only system so I believe it works :) And if you can use straight up cash for a house or car???? Even more baller!

  18. Emma | Money Can Buy Me Happiness May 30, 2016 at 8:49 PM

    Thanks for the shoutout J – and for getting the flag right. So many people confuse it with the Australian flag :-)

    I think I want to move to Singapore now – 37% compulsory savings is amazing. But the trade-off is not being able to afford a car. Wait… that’s a good thing. A dream utopia where everyone walks or uses public transport and saves a sh*tload of their income each month.

    And yeah, my baby is nearly 4! So far have about 5% of a house deposit saved up for him. But when I go back to work next year we’ll up that significantly – plus start saving for his little bro’s pad.

    1. J. Money May 31, 2016 at 11:43 AM

      Love it :) And that you still read the blog too! haha….

  19. Josh @MoneyBuffalo May 30, 2016 at 9:12 PM

    Like the quote “Can you imagine that? If everyone was *forced* to save 37% of their income at a MINIMUM? Oh man… our economy here would shut down and everyone would become rich, haha…”

    I wish someone could do a mock-up scenario just to see what our economy would look like economically with a 37% savings rate.

    1. J. Money May 31, 2016 at 11:43 AM


  20. Scott @ Couple of Sense May 30, 2016 at 9:51 PM

    These are incredible. My favourite would have to be Denmark – mandatory budgets for larger loans? Imagine having people be accountable for what they owe!

  21. Karlene May 31, 2016 at 6:21 AM

    Hello J. Money,
    Another great article! I especially appreciated reading about how they save in Singapore, one of several areas I am working on improving. The challenge I am trying to figure out for folks like myself with debt is whether it’s best to take some of the money that I would send to savings or investing to pay off credit card debt first. I think the answer is no, but I cannot find any articles that really discuss this. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

    1. J. Money May 31, 2016 at 11:50 AM

      An age-old question indeed!

      I personally always choose the route that *excites me* the most since it’s the only way I accomplish goals myself (so long as it’s not REALLY financially stupid), however there are certainly advantages to making more numbered-based decisions as well. Mainly depending on the interest rates of your debt vs performance of the savings/investments.

      Check out some of my favorite debt bloggers below to see what they say as they’ve all written about it before, but I feel like as long as you have a decent cushion of cash for emergencies, you really can’t go wrong with either route. And nothing saying you don’t try one way and then switch back either – nothing’s ever permanent (usually) :)

  22. Eric Bowlin May 31, 2016 at 8:44 AM

    Free education is a pretty dumb idea. The vast majority of degrees earn less than if you just invested the same amount of money on the S&P500. There are only a few categories that are even worth spending on.

    Now with the government paying for it…everyone can be stupid with their degree choices because there is no noticeable cost to them…since they won’t pay much in taxes anyhow with their terrible degrees.

    Oh…and never take economic advice from France..They have systemic double digit unemployment rates and unemployment rates for youth around 25%…

    1. Veronique June 5, 2016 at 12:54 AM

      You’re right about these French facts (although not quite sure about the percentage…). But I would add that contrary to the US : virtually no student debt, and very limited consumer debt (what american credit cards are used for)…
      Now maybe you prefer those ? ;)

  23. ZJ Thorne May 31, 2016 at 1:03 PM

    It’s amazing what is normalized depending on where you live. As a non-driver, I’m pretty happy with the idea of how expensive cars are in Singapore, as long as investments in public transportation are enough to keep the city flowing well. I hate America’s car culture. I don’t want a debt sitting unused in my driveway for 22 hours a day.

  24. Harmony May 31, 2016 at 1:46 PM

    Just one more example of how important it is to keep everything in perspective. We have a lot of debt, but at least it’s not at an interest rate of 400%!

    Maybe I should start teaching my kids German . . .

  25. Joe May 31, 2016 at 1:57 PM

    Great collection of money stories from around the world. I heard about the free tuition in Germany before. That’s an awesome policy. Time for the kids to take German?
    Singapore is nuts… :)

  26. Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank May 31, 2016 at 7:47 PM

    Actually, I find it interesting how people in New Zealand handle student loan. House hustle is definitely a good way to keep money coming in and to take advantage of.

  27. Freedom 40 Guy May 31, 2016 at 9:32 PM

    Very interesting about the French case in particular. Here in the U.S. we certainly have access to cheaper and easier credit than most people in the world. What could go wrong with that formula! Oh wait…..

    1. J. Money June 2, 2016 at 8:36 AM

      Haha, exactly….

  28. Ulyana Frank May 31, 2016 at 10:00 PM

    As someone with family in/from Singapore (and having spent a large chunk of our 1-month Asia tour there), I would definitely NOT want to live there!! It’s a beautiful, clean and safe place to visit but societal expectations and pressures are vastly different than compared to North America.

    Cars are outrageous and there’s a HUGE tax on anything over 10 years so you’re stuck getting a new or almost new car max once a decade. Housing is also ridiculously expensive and unless you’re a multimillionaire, you will be living in a condo or apartment. On the plus side, because the country’s so small and the transit system is good, it’s easy to navigate your way around the city even without a car. (But imagine doing groceries and trying to bring ice cream home while waiting for the bus in that super humid, over 30 degree C weather?!)

    There’s no minimum wage there, so a couple summers ago, my cousin scooped ice cream for $3/hour. The plus side is that maids/nannies there are incredibly affordable – it’s almost the exception not to have one.

    Singapore is also known for being very strict – they still have public caning as disciplinary action!

    Probably the worst thing about it is that Dobermans are banned and the ones that do exist must be muzzled in public. Total dealbreaker!!!

    1. J. Money June 2, 2016 at 8:38 AM

      Yikes… Always good to get different perspectives on these things, for sure. Money is important but so many other factors go into this stuff!

  29. pasadena May 31, 2016 at 10:44 PM

    I’m French, and live in the US. After 5 years, I’m still appalled at my friend’s behavior regarding credit cards, and perpetual car leases (makes me laugh when they tell me that renting is throwing money away because you pay forever and never own any asset for it. Well, your shiny car is the same thing, my friend)

    In France, you can have either a debit card for free, or a “deferred debit” card (which we do call credit card). The whole balance is debited from your account at the end of each month. That’s the most common, and to this day, that’s how I manage my US credit card. I pay it off at the end of every month, regardless of my statement balance or due date. We do have access to credit cards like the US, and they’re usually not issued by banks, but private credit companies. They also have a very very bad rap.

    The 30% rule for loans (most often it’s 33%) is a bit flexible, as some banks will raise that to, say, 40%, for high income earners. What they take into account also vary from bank to bank and the nature of the loan. But yeah, apart from that, it’s very much respected. Remember that our “monthly net income” is before income tax, so we still have that to pay.

    Lastly, we don’t have a credit score, but we do have an official list where they put people who defect on their loans, CC payments, over draft on their accounts, or have bounced checks. While you’re on there, no way you can get another loan, and it can be pretty hard to get off it.

    1. J. Money June 2, 2016 at 8:41 AM

      Thanks for chiming in, Pasadena! Love the insight! :)

  30. pauline June 8, 2016 at 7:41 PM

    Thanks for the double feature, cool post!

  31. theFIREstarter February 12, 2017 at 4:35 PM

    “I’d imagine you can “hack” a lot more out of travel with all that cash you’d be saving too instead of throwing it away!”

    Ah but hang on a second there. Travel hackers aren’t actually the ones incurring the debts and making the ridiculous interest payments (ok so there are people using the rewards system who also pay interest but these are not what I’d call hackers as such!).

    This system is effectively a transfer of wealth from people who are bad with money (paying interest) to those who are not. Nothing against this, and I’d do it in a shot if the same opportunities were available in the UK as well haha. But let’s be clear on what is happening here :)

    On that last point, I am guessing people in the UK dislike credit card debts a little bit more than US, but not as much as French people, because there are some rewards available but they are not that great to be honest.


    1. J. Money February 23, 2017 at 2:54 PM

      Stop being so smart :)

  32. Mayank June 30, 2017 at 5:17 AM

    In India, there is a Public Provident Fund in which you can invest upto Rs. 150,000 per year. The guaranteed rate of return is around 8% right now (used to be 12% in the nineties, so its slowing reducing). And this interest is tax free.

    The best deal is for Indians living abroad (NRI – Non Resident Indian). They can open deposits in Indian banks for any amount and get tax free 8% return! Doesn’t get any better than this.

    1. J. Money June 30, 2017 at 6:33 AM

      WOW!!! That is incredible!!

  33. Debbie August 8, 2018 at 8:02 AM

    I saw a clip awhile ago. A German restaurant owner said he had a very hard time finding waiters. Since most go to college free, who wants to work for low wages as a waiter? He had to raise salaries fairly high to attract workers.
    So….when the Chancellor opened the doors in the past 2 years to displaced immigrants…it was humanitarian but also to help fill the lower end jobs.
    There was a similar problem in NJ. With the high cost of living (especially property taxes), no one could survive working at a fast food restaurant for minimum wage so NJ was pretty much forced to raise it.

    1. J. Money August 8, 2018 at 12:04 PM


      And sounds about right…