What came first, thoughts or money

Who should pay for all of this? : How our relationship to money has changed

For children and young people, it's at the top of their wish-lists: money. 42 percent would like tickets for the festival. Meanwhile, parents prefer to put practical things under the tree, especially shoes, clothes and backpacks. Not giving anything away is an option for very few.

Despite the lockdown, Germans could spend 19.8 billion euros on books, vouchers and odds and ends. That would be more than last year. But this Christmas should be the festival of renunciation. Fully aware.

At least this is what politicians had hoped for.

Even the Federal Minister of Economics advised against buying gifts this year. "I wish and I hope that people only get the bare minimum of food they really need," said Peter Altmaier (CDU). A few weeks ago he had himself photographed on his bike by photographers: the basket full of presents.

A few weeks ago, however, there was no second lockdown, shopping in brick-and-mortar stores was considered a patriotic duty. The priorities are shifting so quickly. Our attitude to consumption and thus to money is changing so quickly in the pandemic.

What does the lockdown cost? How much help do companies need? How much do they get from the state? What can a vaccination dose cost? How high is the short-time allowance? How am I supposed to earn money and look after the children at the same time? What does Corona mean for my shares? Should I buy stocks for the first time? Do I have to pay for the trip even though I cannot take it? What do I do with the money I don't spend on vacation? Questions that show how much Germans thought about money in 2020 - those who lacked it as well as those who have enough.

Younger people spend more on gifts

In doing so, renouncement and consumption may have more to do with each other than one might initially assume. People have already done without so much this year: trips, visits, hugs. The birthday party. The Christmas party in the office. The trade fair visit. The concert. The play. The movie night. Everyone has such a list. Should you also save on Christmas presents?

Younger people in particular do not want to do without consumption at Christmas. While many of the older people follow the advice of politics and shop less before this festival, the younger ones let it rip. Of all people, the 18 to 29 year olds are expected to double their spending on gifts this year, according to surveys. They spend an average of 500 euros on this.

The crisis hit them particularly hard: Many part-time jobs in the catering industry were dropped in 2020, and temporary waiters were hardly needed. At the same time, some companies have not extended temporary positions - in many cases this also affected the junior staff.

And it's about more than the money. "Anyone who loses their job as a career starter not only has problems paying the rent or paying off a loan," warns Robert Feiger, federal chairman of the BAU industrial union. “The whole life planning gets mixed up - right up to starting a family.” Money that is missing, that also changes you.

Germans pay more often contactless

The relationship between consumers and bills and coins has also changed significantly this year. Germans are actually attached to cash. Paying by card or even by smartphone was something that many couldn't get used to for a long time. But then Corona came. And even if experts have repeatedly emphasized that the bills do not pose a risk of infection - contactless payment was suddenly the trend. In the euro zone, 40 percent say they use bills and coins less today than they did before the pandemic. Many even pull out the card for smaller amounts. And experts say: once you get used to it, you won't return to cash anytime soon.

Some might have got used to something else this year: buying stocks. If that was too risky for many for a long time, they got a taste for it during the pandemic of all things. At the online bank Comdirect, more customers took out a new custody account in the first nine months than in the last 20 years. Start-ups that, like Traderepublic, deliberately target young people as buyers of shares, are also very popular. The corona crisis was a godsend for them. It remains to be seen whether this also applies to investors. In the USA at least, we have already made the experience that the holding period of shares has fallen significantly: Investors held onto their papers for just over five months - the stock market was not that short-lived even shortly after the financial crisis erupted in 2008. The shorter stocks are held, however, the more speculation there is and the greater the risk for investors.

[If you want to have the latest news from Berlin, Germany and the world live on your mobile phone, we recommend our app, which you can download here for Apple and Android devices.]

After all, more people have dealt with the question: What to do with the money? Because many could not go on vacation and cut back on their leisure activities, they automatically saved more. And that at a time when saving is hardly rewarded. There will be no more interest anytime soon. “Politicians are in the process of expropriating savers,” says Allianz boss Oliver Bäte in the “Handelsblatt” and speaks openly of “fraud against savers”.

What is the price of profit?

This year there was criticism not only of the central bank, but also of companies. Wanting to make a profit at any price did not go down well during the pandemic. Two CEOs had to apologize. In the first lockdown it was Adidas boss Kasper Rorsted. When his shops had to close, he quickly suspended rent payments.

A large corporation, of all people, is refusing to pay the rent, which has outraged many: On Twitter, users swore they would never buy a pair of pants or a T-shirt with the three stripes again. Even Federal Labor Minister Hubertus Heil intervened, declaring Adidas' behavior "irresponsible". Rorsted admitted the mistake and promised to transfer the rent after all.

The second apology followed just a few days ago in the second lockdown. This time it came from Douglas boss Tina Müller. With a trick she wanted to keep some of the branches of her perfumery chain open. Their reason: Most drugstore items are sold there - and drugstores remain open in lockdown. That was also not well received by many consumers. The result: Müller apologized and immediately closed all branches.

Profit isn't everything. So we learned that too this year. For many small retailers, however, this sentence has to be different. For them, everything is nothing without profit. Restaurateurs, retailers and gym operators are currently worried about their business. Will you make it through the crisis thanks to government money? And: does the money come on time? The insolvency statistics will provide the answers next year.

Does the state give too much or too little?

Some economists consider the aid for companies to be too extensive. One of these warners is the former Ifo boss Hans-Werner Sinn, who thinks that politics is losing its measure. "Times of crisis are politically seductive," he told the "Handelsblatt". "You just have to call Corona and the billions start flowing." The traders, in turn, have no understanding for such sentences. From their point of view, the state aid for the closed shops is still far from sufficient. According to the HDE trade association, the existence of three quarters of clothing retailers is currently threatened.

But while some lose, others win. Online trading is booming. Amazon feels this just as much as the Post subsidiary DHL. The latter transported 56 million parcels within a week - a record. "Deutsche Post DHL is experiencing a Christmas rush this year that has never been seen before," says a spokesman.

As Barack Obama once said, "Money is not the only answer, but it makes a difference."

Now new: We give you 4 weeks of Tagesspiegel Plus! To home page