Frugal Countries Index: The Thriftiest Countries in the World

With the current economic climate around the world – and especially in the western world – it’s unsurprising that people are looking for ways to save money wherever they can.

And while people in the UK, America, the rest of Europe etc. are good at a lot of things, one thing few countries are known for is their ability to save money. This shouldn’t come as a shock: following Christmas, the average American had an average of $1,054 of debt just from the holiday season, while people in Britain borrow an average of £452 on credit cards at Christmas.

When people are looking to save money, the biggest thing that’s normally first to go is travelling – because many people believe that travelling is extremely expensive. That’s why, here at CheapHotels4UK, we believe in affordable, cheap accommodation, to make that short break away accessible to anyone and everyone.

Alongside this, we decided to put together our Frugal Countries Index, to determine where in the world is best at saving their money – and point you in the right direction to look for tips and tricks to make that monthly pay cheque go a little bit further.

Our Frugal Countries Index is a comprehensive look at the thriftiest countries around the world. This was created by analysing a variety of different factors that would determine how frugal and good at saving and spending, different countries are– including the average total of savings per household, as well as the amount of debt, plus expenditure on everyday items.

The number one frugal country was Singapore, where the average monthly salary is $4,544 and the average monthly spend on food is only $1,297. Ireland and Saudi Arabia came in second and third, while the UK placed at number 21.

Read on below to find out the full results of the Frugal Countries Index.


Singapore ranked in the top spot due to the very high average savings per household, per year: on average, a typical household in Singapore will save 48.1% of their annual income. This is matched by relatively high credit card usage, however, with 49% of people in Singapore owning a credit card – but this does not necessarily mean that there is a high amount of credit card debt to accompany this.

Not only this, but the annual outbound tourism expenditure is also only $22,102 million, which is surprisingly low for a country with 5.612 million people, which is an average spend of $3.93 a year per person.

Following Singapore, the top 10 most frugal countries are:

  • 2. Ireland
  • 3. Saudi Arabia
  • 4. Russia
  • 5. Germany
  • 6. Czech Republic
  • 7. Poland
  • 8. South Korea
  • 9. Sweden
  • 10. Slovakia


Ireland scored relatively well for most categories, but they achieved the best score for the annual outbound tourism expenditure, which was only $6,216 million, impressive for a country with 4.784 million inhabitants. They also scored well for google search trends for “budgeting”, with a score of 51.8 out of 100 in terms of popularity for the search.

The results by continent are as below:

  • Most frugal country in Asia: Singapore
  • Most frugal country in Europe: Ireland
  • Most frugal country in Oceania: Australia
  • Most frugal country in North America: Canada
  • Most frugal country in South America: Chile


In order to determine how well each country performed across various factors, we divided the categories into three main sections: spending habits, saving, and debt.

Countries Scoring Best for Spending

The country that scored the best for spending – or rather, a lack of spending – was Singapore, followed by Saudi Arabi and Ireland. The country with the highest rate of spending was France, with an average monthly spend on food coming to $2,727.10, and an average of 1.11% of their monthly income being spent towards mobile phone bills.


Again, the countries scoring best for saving were Singapore and Ireland, with average gross savings of 48.069% and 36.731% of GDP respectively. The country with the worst rate of saving was Portugal, with only an average of 16.312% of GDP saved annually, and a popularity score of 11.96 for the search “budgeting” on Google.


The countries scoring the best for average debt were Saudi Arabia and Russia, with an average of 16% and 20% of people owning a credit card respectively. Contrastingly, the country with the worst score was New Zealand, where 61% of people own a credit card, and household debt on average is 92.46% of GDP.


We focused the ranking on countries considered to be more economically developed, using the set of high-income economies as defined by the World Bank. This was important as less economically developed countries would be at a disadvantage when pitted against these larger economies.

For each country we analysed a variety of factors to score each country across their spending, saving and debt habits.

The elements considered are:

* Monthly expenditure on food

* Annual monthly household expenditure

* Mobile phone spend

* Spend on travel

* Spend on charity donations

* Household savings

* Google search trends for “budgeting”

* Credit card ownership

* Household debt

We used food, household, phone, travel and charity spend to score each country in the ‘Spending’ category.

We used household savings and budgeting search interest to score each country in the ‘Saving’ category.

We used credit card ownership and household debt to score each country in the ‘Debt’ category.

We scored each country from 1-5 (with 5 being the highest) for each of these sections. We then divided the categories into three main sections: spending, saving, and debt. We totalled these scores together to find the final FCI Score, with a total of 15 being the highest available.

Average Salary per Country

Please see below for the average monthly and annual salary per country, for reference.

The full dataset is available upon request.