Cash hoarders: Billions stashed in Belgian households

Cash hoarders: Billions stashed in Belgian households
Credit: Pxhere

A staggering €48.4 billion of Belgian household savings are kept in cash and coins, or in other words, Belgians stash an average of €4,200 in their homes, according to new statistics published by the National Bank of Belgium.

Most Belgians keep their wealth in insurance products, regulated savings deposits, unlisted shares, equity, and sight deposits. Nevertheless, a surprisingly large amount of savings are cash, and simply shoved under the mattress or put in a safe.

Over the last 10 years, the increase in the total amount of cash stored by Belgians has even outstripped the increase of their other assets. The levels of assets grew by 43.5% while banknotes and coins rocketed by 87%.

The National Bank of Belgium has described this trend as a “remarkable evolution.”

According to the European Central Bank (ECB), up to 80% of cash is not used for payment, but rather for storing. Cash is naturally a favourite of criminals and large quantities of Euro notes do not stay within the European economy, but rather disappear abroad.

There are also suspicions that Belgians withdrew large amounts of cash during the panic of the early stages of the pandemic, fearing financial insecurity and tough times ahead.

Belgians households wealthier

The amount of financial assets held by Belgian households also increased by €62 billion in 2021, reaching new records. Total household assets have peaked at over €1.5 trillion, last year, on the back of strong economic recovery and increasing wealth.

Over the last 10 years, the net financial wealth of Belgians has expanded dramatically.

In 2011, Belgians had a collective wealth of €839.1 billion. By the end of 2021, this has increased to over €1.2 trillion, a growth of nearly 43.5%.

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Individuals invested a total €32.1 billion in financial assets, including €20.9 billion in investment funds last year. Investment opportunities such as insurance products and debt securities have become less popular, with savers selling their investments.

The financial liabilities of Belgians have increased compared to 2020 levels, reaching €330.4 billion, spurred by increased mortgage loans during the recovery following the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to data published by the Institute of National Accounts (INR), Belgian families saved an average of 12.5% of their income in the last three months of 2021, a savings ratio similar to pre-pandemic levels.

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