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Half of Dutch households unable to make ends meet or pay large unexpected bills

69% of young Dutch people are struggling financially. They’re more likely to take risks by gambling, investing in cryptocurrencies or paying on credit. Like most Dutch people, the young are turning to family and friends for help and advice, rather than experts.

This is the outcome of research conducted by Leiden University in collaboration with Tilburg University, Deloitte, Nibud and various banks, in which 5,001 Dutch people were asked about their finances. While the Dutch are doing slightly better compared to last year, there has been no lasting improvement in their financial position.

People don’t like talking about money

‘We’re doing this survey for the third year in a row, and each year we ask several new questions on a particular topic,’ explains Dr Max van Lent, Assistant Professor of Economics. ‘This year, for example, we looked at people's willingness to discuss their financial situation. What we found was that most people either prefer not to talk about it at all, or hardly ever (41%). And if they do, they ask their partner, parents and friends for help and advice rather than experts.’

More financial support available

As people don’t discuss their finances and are also reluctant to ask an expert for help, ‘they may miss out on early help’, says Van Lent. He adds that this is a shame because there are lots of schemes available to help people, including support from the municipality to allow children to exercise for free. Special assistance can also help. Van Lent continues, ‘The scheme can help cover the costs of moving house, divorce and school expenses.’

Distrust caused by childcare benefits scandal

Van Lent mentions the lack of trust caused by the Dutch childcare benefits scandal as a potential explanation for that reluctance to seek external help: ‘If people already know that they’re eligible for something, they might think: I’m eligible for it now, but that could all change tomorrow and then I’d have to pay it all back.’ But the researcher says that many people are unaware what they are eligible to receive in the first place. He refers to NIBUD's Financial Health Check tool (link in Dutch) which asks users to answer a series of questions before giving tips on how they can improve their financial situation.

Young people’s financial behaviour: more online gambling, crypto and paying on credit

This year, the researchers also looked at the financial behaviour of young people, who appear to be purchasing quite a few risky products and services. Online gambling is a popular pastime among one in six young people, while one in five invest in cryptocurrencies and a staggering 44% pay on credit. On the latter, otherwise known as ‘buy now, pay later’ schemes, he says: ‘They often don't realise that after making a purchase, they will be making repayments for a long time to come and may even be fined for forgetting a repayment.’ Paying on credit can also affect purchases in the future, such as buying a house. Van Lent adds, ‘People already get credit registrations for credit purchases amounting to a few hundred euros – even for certain phone subscriptions.’

All research findings

More information on the research is provided in the research summary. The full research report (in Dutch) is available here.

Text: Helena Lysaght

Photo: Mathieu Stern through Unsplash

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