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Savings Market Research

Savings Strategies

Most youth around the world are able to put aside some money or make it “stretch” (Safe Spaces–Kenya). Youth use various strategies to save. They may save part of the money that their parents give them for food or transportation (i.e., allowances), or they may work on a part time or irregular basis either to supplement this income or if they are out of school. They may also reduce their expenses or their consumption to save (Safe Spaces–Uganda, ESAF–West Bank/Gaza). Some youth may only save for a short time period, such as during the week, in order to spend these monies on entertainment or personal expenses during the weekends or on school-related expenses (Savings Innovation and Expansion for Adolescent Girls and Young Women–Dominican Republic).

In some regions youth are very innovative in their savings strategies. For example, they may save by giving their money to a shop owner in return for a small percentage of the shop owner’s profits. Youth may also invest money in buying inexpensive goods (e.g., clothes) or crops (e.g., beans) during the harvest or another time when such goods are cheaper, storing them, and then selling them at a later date when they need money or prices are higher (AIM Youth–Mali, AGEP–Zambia, Ishaka–Burundi). In addition, they may loan money on a short-term basis with high interest rates to friends and family (MCI Zambia). Other youth may invest in businesses or assets (e.g., land, gold) (ESAF– West Bank/Gaza).

Savings Capacity

Similar to their income flows, the amount of young people’s savings varies; typically, it is irregular. They may save a little each day, each week, or even each month. The savings capacity of youth may be lower when income is lower, such as during the high-spending months of December (for Christmas) or August (when youth go back to school and parents must pay school fees) (YouthStart).


Youth may have difficulty saving because they have no disposable income, but are nevertheless expected to contribute to the household. Most lack a long-term job or consistent income. In addition, most youth lack the discipline to save regularly mainly due to the pressure to look good and compete with friends (ESAF–West Bank/Gaza, Savings Innovation and Expansion for Adolescent Girls and Young Women– Dominican Republic & Mongolia, YouthInvest).

Savings Goals

Youth around the developing world typically save for a purpose. It may be to buy things on their own, making them feel more independent, responsible, and free (Savings Innovation and Expansion for Adolescent Girls and Young Women–Dominican Republic, ESAF–West Bank/Gaza). Youth typically have a short planning horizon (ESAF–West Bank/Gaza), which translates into shorter-term goals. These short-term goals often align with their typical daily or weekly expenses, such as contributions to the household, clothes, school supplies, and discretionary spending (e.g., brand-name clothing, accessories for girls, entertainment for boys) (YouthStart, YouthSave). Most youth prefer saving to borrowing because they would rather save toward a goal than borrow to finance it (ESAF–West Bank/Gaza).


However, youth are concerned about their futures and save for education, equipment for a business or IGA, assets (e.g., a business, home, bicycle, car, animal, radio), emergencies, or unexpected expenses (YouthStart, YouthSave, YouthInvest, Savings Innovation and Expansion for Adolescent Girls and Young Women). They may also save for social events, such as birthdays, holidays, or festivals, or an important life event, such as graduation, migration, marriage, having a child, or buying a house (Savings Innovation and Expansion for Adolescent Girls and Young Women–Dominican Republic & Mongolia, AIM Youth–Mali). Finally, in some regions youth may save to overcome or cope with the financial pressure of needing to meet their own expenses (YouthSave).


In many regions, youth don’t understand the connection between daily spending and storing money at home with achieving savings goals. For example, some youth may save for education, business, emergencies, or marriage, but then spend their savings on discretionary items (e.g., snacks at school, entertainment) or recreational or personal items (e.g., laptop computer, mobile phone, clothing) (YouthInvest, ESAF–West Bank/Gaza). In many cases youth spend small amounts of money on anything they want, but seek their parents’ permission to spend larger amounts of money, or ask their parents to save it for them. As a result, youth may consider savings to be more related to daily or weekly transactions for smaller purchases and independently managing their own money, rather than to long-term goals or their futures (Savings Innovation and Expansion for Adolescent Girls and Young Women–Mongolia).

Savings Methods

Some youth may save through banks and microfinance institutions (MFIs), but in most regions youth save mostly through the following informal methods (YouthStart, YouthSave, AGEP–Zambia, AIM Youth–Mali, Savings Innovation and Expansion for Adolescent Girls and Young Women–Mongolia, Ishaka–Burundi)

• Through a trusted person, such as a family member (especially a parent—in most cases, the mother), friend, or shopkeeper
• At home in piggy banks, boxes, tins, wallets, or purses that are hidden in the house (e.g., under a mattressor pillow, inside furniture, underground, or in clothing)
• Savings groups
• Mobile money accounts
• In kind (e.g., animals, inexpensive goods or crops, bicycles)

Youth value the privacy of their savings, which is why most of them hide them from parents and other family members and boyfriends. In some regions, particularly in Africa, if their savings are discovered, the discovery can result in arguments or violence, especially for girls (Safe Spaces–Kenya). In some cases the amount of savings and type of savings goal (e.g., short versus long term) may directly influence how youth choose to save money. For example, youth may save small amounts of money for leisure, entertainment, or education (i.e., short term goals) at home, and larger amounts for clothing or school fees (i.e., long-term goals) with a parent, shopkeeper, or in a savings account (YouthInvest, Savings Innovation and Expansion for Adolescent Girls and Young Women–Mongolia, AIM Youth–Mali). Some youth prefer to save larger amounts (e.g., monies received for gifts or holidays) with parents or in a bank to help them overcome the temptation of spending the money (Savings Innovation and Expansion for Adolescent Girls and Young Women–Mongolia).

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