Living in a different country is a fun (although not always) way to learn how attitudes towards money can change. Here are some things I’ve learned through eight years in France.
1. The French are savers- with almost the highest rate of savings in Europe. Over the past ten years, the average number of French households with savings accounts fluctuated around 16%, while in the United States it hovered closer to 3 to 5%.
2. Credit cards are almost unknown in France. This is because most people use their debit card to pay for things. Many people also have an overdraft account attached to their checking account, with the overdraft charging around 12% interest.
3. There is no credit bureau in France- which can lead to problems for French expatriates, as there is no official ‘credit history’ when they leave France. Instead, each company develops its own method of determining a loan candidate’s financial trustworthiness.
4. The average salary after deductions (but before taxes) for a new teacher in France is â‚¬1200 per month (14,400 annually) while an experienced teacher will earn twice that. The average salary for traditional public school teachers in the United States increased 4.5 percent in 2006-07 to $51,009 ($4250 monthly before taxes), according to the AFT’s latest teacher salary survey.
5. Gas costs about the same as it does in the US, at least until you add in taxes. Approximately 70 of the price paid goes to the state.
Have you ever spent long periods of time abroad? What did you learn about money and spending?