Finances of Estonian families have imrpoved

  • Three quarters of families are able to save if they need to, and the number of households with savings has risen
  • Loans have been taken by 41% of families, which is the same as two years ago, and half of the loan liabilities are related to real estate
  • Around one fifth of families are planning to take a loan in the next year, and most of them already have some loan liabilities

Around 70% of families consider the trajectory of their family to be good and three quarters believe they can make savings if they needed to. The share of families able to save was about the same before the economic crisis, but it had fallen to 65% by 2012. In the immediate aftermath of the economic crisis it was mainly families with higher incomes that saw growth in the ability to save, but in recent years families with average and lower incomes have found that their capacity for saving has improved.

The share of families with savings has increased from year to year together with incomes and the capacity to save. Data from August 2016 show that 66% of families had financial savings in cash or in a bank. In 2014, 59% of families had such savings and in 2012 only 53% did. The share of families with savings increased mainly through families with average incomes, but also to a small extent through families with lower incomes. Even so, less than half of families in the bottom third of the income distribution, with net incomes of up to 350 euros per family member) saved. The savings of Estonian families are quite small and only around half of the families who said how much they had in savings in August 2016 had more than 1000 euros.

Savings are mostly held for a rainy day to provide some safety margin above income, but there was an increase in saving for leisure activities, health, and costs of residential property. The preference was to hold savings on a bank account or at home in cash. Around 6% of families own exchange-traded securities or units in investment funds, which is a little less than 10 years ago.

In August close to 245,000 families in Estonia, or 41% of all households, had loans. These numbers have been relatively stable throughout the past six years, and loans are mostly taken for buying, building or repairing homes. However, there has again been growth in in car leases and in the use of instalment payments from shops. Higher incomes have slightly reduced the principal and interest payments of loans as a percentage of income, and that figure is below 20% for more than half of families with loans. The households with the greatest difficulties are those whose monthly loan repayments exceed 40% of their income, and 8% of the families with loans were in that category.

In the past year, 9% of families in Estonia have wanted to take a loan to buy or renovate a property. A little over half of them had their loan applications granted, which is about the same as in 2014. About as many families are planning to take a loan in the next year as did so in 2014, and 70% of them already have some loan liabilities

The survey by TNS Kantar was conducted in August this year and covered 984 families, with respondents aged between 18 and 74. The survey was commissioned by Eesti Pank.

TNS Kantar has been conducting the F-monitoring survey since 1998. The survey maps changes in how Estonian residents use money and in the options and desires behind their financial behaviour.

Source: Bank of Estonia

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