When you are struggling to find enough money to get through the month or make ends meet, it an feel as if you are all alone in that effort.
Money troubles are internationally universal and experienced by people around the world. Just yesterday I wrote about consumer debt levels increasing in Australia and Canada.
The reality is that since the beginning of a credit and debt societies there was always a segment of the population that found it difficult to survive.
Recently a conference was help in Canada and examined financial literacy in many different countries. – Source
Aleksander Rychwalski, Department of Education with the Polish Financial Supervision Authority presented information that said:
- 55 percent of Poles do not have a household budget even though 77 percent say they watch their financial situation
- 73 percent note that they pay their bills on time
- 38 percent said their income did not meet costs in the last 12 months and 40 percent borrowed money or food from friends and relatives in order to make ends meet
- Only one in 10 respondents would be able to cover their living costs for longer than six months if they lost their main source of income
- Nearly half (46 percent) of respondents preferred to spend money rather than to save it for the long-term
- The use of financial products is also low compared to other developed market countries. Just 63 percent have a bank account while 36 percent have insurance, 25 percent have credit cards, 26 percent have a pension fund and only 18 percent have a savings account.
South Africa is a country I’m very familiar with in their struggles with debt. Ever since they’ve been on my radar there has been a tremendous disparity in the ability to service consumer indebtedness.
According to Olivia Davids, Head of Consumer Education with the Financial Services Board in South Africa people are still dealing with debt issues.
- 44 percent of respondents noted they were short of income during the previous year, and the greatest income shortfalls were among those with little education or who were unable to work or who were part-time or job seekers
- Nearly half (47 percent) prefer to save rather than spend money, while 59 percent plan for the future
- 55 percent always, or often make financial plans for the long-term. Only 22 percent say they never plan
- 91 percent say they are aware of bank accounts as a product, but only 66 percent know about credit cards and 20 percent do not own any of the 14 products listed on the survey
- Knowledge and understanding of mathematical concepts related to finance is quite low, with only 26 percent of respondents showing basic understanding of the impact of inflation, and high numbers reporting they do not know the answers for questions about simple and compound interest.
In Canada Jennifer Robson, Senior policy research officer, with Policy Research Initiative in Canada presented a snapshot of how Canadians are doing.
- 49 percent of all Canadian adults say they do not have a budget at all
- 57 percent of Canadians between the ages of 18 and 29 do not have a budget, while 47 percent of Canadians between the ages of 60 and 69 don’t have one
- Among the lowest earning Canadians, 48 percent say they struggle financially sometimes, and 11 percent say they experience real problems
- Among the highest earning Canadians, 15 percent say they sometimes struggle and one percent say they have real problems
- When asked how they would cover a $500 expense, 45 percent say they would use credit or debt, while 56 percent say they would tap into their savings
- 2.2 percent of the lowest net worth Canadians say they do not have a bank account and 4.2 percent of Aboriginal respondents noted the same.
While I don’t have any current United States comparisons, some results from 2007 showed that American’s are not fairing much better.
- 40 percent say they have a budget
- 20 percent said they don’t keep any track at all of their income and expenses
- 40 percent say they can’t pay their credit cards in full each month
- 30 percent don’t know what their interest rates are on their credit cards
- Less than 50 percent check their credit histories
- Only 30 percent said they were interested in more financial education.
The bottom line is that the ongoing fight with money, credit, and debt is a daily battle faced by citizens of many countries. It’s almost the most universal language in the world.