Finweek English Edition - - MONEY -

South Africans are con­stantly re­minded of how ter­ri­ble they are at sav­ing. We are rated among the worst na­tions in the world for our prof­li­gate ways, and our pur­ported in­abil­ity to put away our hard­earned pen­nies. Yet, con­trary to what many be­lieve, it’s not the lower-in­come earn­ers who give us such a shoddy rep­u­ta­tion as savers. As the Old Mu­tual Sav­ings & In­vest­ment Mon­i­tor of July 2012 re­vealed, lower-in­come South Africans save more than higher-in­come ci­ti­zens, de­spite the fact that their liv­ing ex­penses [pro­por­tion­ally] place a greater de­mand on their house­hold in­comes. In­deed, as a re­sult of their pen­chant for fancy homes and even fancier cars, higher earn­ers shoul­der a larger debt load than lower earn­ers.

Per­haps an­other se­cret to the sav­ings success of SA’s lower-in­come house­holds is their use of stokvels as a sav­ings in­stru­ment. Ac­cord­ing to re­search pro­vided by African Re­sponse, al­most 11.5m peo­ple be­long to 811 830 stokvels around the coun­try, and they col­lec­tively save R44bn a year. This num­ber, as re­searcher Zinzile Ntoyiwa pointed out, “clearly dwarfed most ma­jor met­ro­pol­i­tan ar­eas”. Stokvels – def ined by An­drew Lukhele,

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