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Romanians vs Money: Who's afraid of the big bad wolf?


In 2022, beginning of 2023 we conducted along our partner McKinsey Romania an extensive research about the relationship between Romanians and money. The information has been used as bases for this documentary "Why we live from today until tomorrow. The complicated relationship of Romanians with money"

Adding to this, one of the main worries of Romanians in 2023 was related to money (see graph below). 2024 indicates the worries will worsen, and this makes us want to reveal more details on the Romanians complicated relationship with money, as our researches indicate.

History indicates Romania was for a long time a rather "closed" society from a financial/money perspective - few people with capital, low money movement, lack of real investment opportunities etc.  These aspects were reinforced by the social events Romania went through (the late emergence of the industrial revolution, the communist period with the double trauma it produced:capping, a forced equalisation of people outside clear criteria of meritocracy, accompanied by a material shortage in the last period of communism and the wild capitalism that followed immediately after the revolution which came with a high degree of insecurity and instability etc.).

Romanians live for years trapped between the desire to progres and the reality of the helpless feeling in real life. Money play an important role in being the key that opens the cage towards people dreams - freedom, independence and progres

People in this country say they often feel like they are the talented poor kid with no roots, no family to bond with, no heritage or education to carry on and pass it over. As a metaphor, imagine this kid having to change more than three completely different families - from monarchy, to communism, back to fickle, immature capitalism - how hard could that be to him?

Throughout time the main tool to survive was the Romanian spirit, which has been the only constant - the talent, the spark, the wit. the humour.

In their relationship with money, Romanians always tended to constantly oscillate between the tonic side (come on, you can do it) and the toxic one, which often produced blockages and self-limitations

- The lack of external stimulation led to the formation of a toxic mentality related to finances: minimising their importance, augmenting their viciousness ("money changes you, it transforms you from a human to non-human", "money does not bring happiness"/in the end money is not important in life", "money, the devil's eye") or constantly worrying about having it (children must make a situation, not to risk "becoming a nobody" + money in the mattress).

- The tonic side of money gathered around the definition as tool for overcoming the condition of limitations, it means eliminating blockages ("the bomb with which you detonate the mountain to allow the water flow"). Money goes beyond the idea of survival, affiliation and affirmation, towards having an active role in helping people meet their aspiration. "If Romania would have money, how far will that go, since Romanians are such dreamers and seekers?!" Money are seen here as main bridge to overcome people's perpetual condition of vulnerability,"weakness" and self-worthlessness.

TODAY THINGS HAVE CHANGED A LITTLE. "To have money" in Romania means "to be able to do what you want". It means a way to show myself and others (family) that I CAN. Far from being a goal in itself, but more about achieving freedom, gaining independence and measuring personal worth. To the majority of Romanians, despite expectations, real money isn't the kind that comes easy ("you don't feel it, as long as you don't make it, you easily lose it"), but through hard work and commitment -"when I got that bonus more than I expected I felt appreciated and respected. It made me realise the value of my work."

Many of the stories people tell about money are about freedom, autonomy, liberation and self-worth

"My first salary made me understand what money is and what its value is. I felt autonomous, healthy, able to support myself.” (B, 35, Lugoj, Economy)

"When I was little I wanted different things and my parents always said <I don't have money for that> which was very frustrating. That's why when I made my first money in 8th grade doing an extra in a movie. I realised what freedom and autonomy means, not to hear that <we don't have>" (B, 24, Cluj, High)"

"My most intense memory is from high school when I tried to make my own money selling AVON cosmetics. I was ashamed to ask my parents because they didn't have much and I liked this sentimental feeling of autonomy."(F, 31, Iasi, Economy)

”The most intense memory related to money is from when I was in primary school, I think, and the idea came to me to organise a lottery, I made some tickets with questions and if you knew the answer you got some money...and from that lottery I won the first money" (B, 37, Bucharest, high)



1. 70% of Romanians still manifest toxic patterns in relationship with the money. Only 30% have managed to build a healthy relationship with the finances. The segmentation below shows the size of the money patterns segments across total population, as our study revealed

Relationship with money segments
  1. The idea that it is useless to dream high if you do not have resources to fulfil your dreams still persist. Solutions related to training the antreprenorial side of the population to act with more courage and vision by offering the proper tools to grow are still highly needed
  2. Talking about money is partially taboo, people still show signs of fear when they relate to the subject. Denying the myths of money require public debate so as to enable a healthy and rational relationship with your finances. This is something that people want to pass to future generations
  3. Remove the NO from any discussion about the money would also help healing traumas and starting thinking positively about our resources, existing or potential
  4. "Having money" was often associated with "doing something illegal". Start showing cases of authentic wealth and spread the stories around for encouragement
  5. Inconsistency in managing money made people poor or fickle financially, education and clear financial rule will help them recover and grow.
  6. Few imagine they will live from pension when they get old. Open the debate on "what's your financial plan for third age?" would definitely be needed sooner than we imagine



Special Thanks