German word of the day: Das Sparschwein

Germans are known for being big savers and for loving to pay with cash, so it’s no surprise that many make good use of today’s word of the day.

German word of the day: Das Sparschwein
Many children learn saving early by having their own piggy banks and play money. Photo: DPA.

What does it mean? 

Das Sparschwein is the “piggy bank,” coming from the verb sparen, which means “to save, put aside, or spare,” and Das Schwein, or “the pig.” 

Die Spardose is another word for piggy bank and can also refer to money boxes more generally. 

READ ALSO: German word of the day: Schweineteuer

A hot air balloon shaped like a piggy bank with the logo of Berliner Sparkasse, one of the largest savings banks in Germany. Photo: DPA. 

A 2016 report by German magazine Börse am Sonntag said that 45 percent of Germans store money at home. The same report indicated that 57 percent of all Germans have a piggy bank in their household. In Saxony, that number goes up to 69 percent.

Individuals cite different reasons for storing money at home – security, ease of access, fear of a banking crisis. 

Where did it come from? 

The concept of storing money in jars has been around for centuries. Some theories suggest that the phrase evolved from the word “pygg,” the name of the orange colored clay that individuals used to make pots and jars. 

Regardless of the origin, much of the popularity of piggy banks in Europe and America came from Germany, where pigs are considered symbols of luck. 

READ ALSO: The complete guide to German animal themed phrases

Germans are also known for their commitment to saving. An entire exhibition was dedicated to the history of this concept at the German Historical Museum in Berlin in 2018. 

How is it used? 

The phrase Das Sparschwein schlachten (müssen), translated to “to (have to) break the piggy bank,” is a useful one to know.

Here are some other useful phrases with Schwein: 

To have good luck in German is to have “schwein gehabt,” or “got pig.” 

Instead of saying lucky duck, Germans say  “glücksschwein,” or “lucky pig.”

Example Sentences: 

Er will eine Münze in das Sparschwein werfen. 

He wants to throw a coin in the piggy bank. 

Sie muss das Sparschwein schlachten. 

She must break the piggy bank.

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Where in Germany do people have the highest disposable income?

An economic study has shown huge regional differences in income throughout Germany. So which parts of the country have the most to spend each month, and which are feeling the squeeze?

Where in Germany do people have the highest disposable income?

A study by the Economic and Social Sciences Institute (WSI) of the Hans-Böckler foundation reveals stark regional differences in disposable income in Germany. In some cases, households had as much as double the spending money of those in other parts of the country. 

Here’s where people have the most – and least – disposable income each month.

What is disposable income?

The WSI calculated disposable income as the sum of income from wealth and employment, minus social contributions, income taxes, property taxes and other direct benefits or taxes.

What’s left is the income which private households can either spend on consumer goods or save.

The study, which was based on the most recent available national accounts data for 2019, looked at the disposable income of all of the 401 counties, districts and cities across Germany.

Which regions have the highest and lowest disposable incomes?

The study found that the regions with the highest disposable incomes were in the southern states.

Heilbronn in Baden-Württemberg had the highest disposable income of all 401 German counties and independent cities – with an average per capita disposable income of €42,275. The district of Starnberg in Bayern followed in second place with €38,509.

READ ALSO: REVEALED: How much do employees really earn across Germany’s states?

By comparison, per capita incomes in the cities of Gelsenkirchen and Duisburg in North Rhine-Westphalia were less than half as high, at €17,015 and €17,741 respectively. These regions had the lowest disposable income in the country. 

The study also found that, more than thirty years since German reunification, the eastern regions continue to lag behind those in the west in terms of wages.

According to the WSI, the Potsdam-Mittelmark district is the only district in the former east where the disposable per capita income of €24,127 exceeds the national average of €23,706.

Do regional price differences balance things out?

The study also showed that regionally different price levels contribute to a certain levelling out of disposable incomes, as regions with high incomes also tend to have higher rents and other living costs.

“People then have more money in their wallets, but they cannot afford more to the same extent,” WSI scientist Toralf Pusch explained.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: When will Germany raise the minimum wage?

Therefore, incomes in the eastern states, adjusted for purchasing power, are generally somewhat higher than the per capita amounts would suggest.

That could explain why, even after price adjustment, the cities of Gelsenkirchen and Duisburg in western Germany continue to be at the very bottom of the list.

Saxon-Anhalt’s Halle an der Saale, on the other hand, which has an average disposable income of only €18,527, benefits from the lower prices in the east.