You do not talk about money – certainly not about what you borrowed. The Germans have always been seen as cramped when it comes to talking about money.
Lending is obviously a particularly big taboo subject. Not even one in two Germans openly talks about their debts at 45 percent. This is confirmed by a survey commissioned by the bank on the debt of the opinion and market research institute aliresearch .
Everyone does it, but nobody talks about it
The taking up of loans has long been normal in Germany as well: More than two-thirds of all Germans have already taken out a loan at least once in their lifetime. Above all, real estate and mortgage lending are widespread – 35 percent of Germans have already used this type of loan. This is hardly surprising – after all, most of them should not be able to afford the considerable costs of their own four walls completely. But the use of installment loans (30 percent) or the credit line (28 percent) is similarly widespread.
Especially in the minds of older Germans money and especially debts seem to be firmly anchored as a taboo topic. Not even 35 percent of respondents over 60 years talked about their debts – for almost two thirds in this age group, the topic is still an absolute no-go. The younger Germans are already taking a more relaxed approach to the subject of money: among the 30- to 39-year-olds, at least 61 percent do not mince words when it comes to debt. There is also a difference between the sexes. Men are more offensive with their liabilities than women, of whom only about 40 percent talk about their debts. For male debtors, it is almost 49 percent.
Shame as a reason for concealing debts
According to business psychologist Erich Kaiser, people are defined to a not inconsiderable degree by their wealth in our society. If you have money, you are considered capable of action. Therefore, it is not surprising that so many Germans prefer to keep quiet about their debts. The importance of money for social status can also be seen from the fact that people on low incomes are ashamed of their obligations. Every third person with a monthly household income of less than 1,000 euros expressed this. On the other hand, people who are financially sound are much less uncomfortable when they need credit for larger expenses. Obviously, their social status is so secure that only four percent of respondents with a net household income of more than $ 4,000 claim to be ashamed of their debts. Overall, 14 percent of Germans are uncomfortable with their debts.
Despite favorable loans Fear of a debt spiral
Apart from shame, the fear of falling into an insurmountable debt trap is also deeply rooted in the German soul. Overall, 42 percent of Germans fear that they will not be able to get rid of their debts. This fear is especially pronounced at around 57 percent for households with a monthly income of less than € 1,000 and in the age group of 30- to 39-year-olds with 55 percent. Respondents between the ages of 50 and 59 were least likely to get into a debt spiral through loans. But even here it was still just under a third that expressed this fear.
Consumers are well aware that, given the continuing low interest rates, loans are currently available at historically favorable terms. A quarter of respondents said they borrowed because of low interest rates. Another 37 percent could envisage borrowing for this reason, and 16 percent would increase their credit due to low interest rates. The fear of the debt trap seems to be in many cases only a theoretical one. Because only a good quarter of the respondents stated that they did not want to borrow in principle.