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Record amounts saved in 2021, despite rock-bottom interest rates

10:10 05/01/2022

Belgians maintained their reputation as a nation of savers in 2021, putting away record amounts of cash in savings accounts earning virtually no interest.

The latest statistics from the Belgian National Bank show Belgian residents had €298 billion stored in savings at the end of October last year, an increase of about €5 billion on the previous year.

BNP Paribas Fortis reported a 5% increase in the balance of savings accounts in 2021, Belfius 6.5% and KBC 7.5%. The majority of the savings were in regular easy-access accounts.

Belgians also appear to be keeping more cash than normal in their regular current accounts, up by about €50 billion in a year.

The increase is not a recent trend. Every year, Belgian savings account holders put away more money than the previous year - and the coronavirus crisis has done nothing to reverse this trend.

However, most savings accounts are paying the legal minimum of 0.11%, which coupled with rising inflation - estimated to reach 5% in 2022 - means the value of people's savings is eroding over time.

"Money saved for 10 years, taking into account inflation, loses about 25% of its value," said Nicolas Claeys, investment expert at Test-Achats.

He recommends keeping between three and six months of salary in easy-access savings to deal with unforeseen expenses, such as a problem in the home or broken down car.

Beyond this reserve, "the most profitable solution in the long term is investing in the stock market", Claeys added.

Written by The Bulletin