The Germans (as well as the Scots) are known to be thrifty people. One feature of the deep-rooted culture of saving in Germany are savings clubs ("Sparklubs"). Early forms of them were founded already in the 19th Century. They were for example very common in the Saxonian town of Dresden, where people jointly saved to afford the famous "Christstollen" (a traditional Christmas fruit cake).
Especially in the northern and western parts of Germany, from the 1930s on thousands of new savings clubs came into being. It is assumed that they were inspired by Christmas savings clubs which existed in the USA and Great Britain. Thus the seaports Hamburg and Bremen became their first strongholds.
Most of the clubs were founded in pubs and bars, where labourers, office workers, small businessmen or farmers met. There the clubs hanged up special wall cupboards with 30, 40 or even 60 boxes – one for each saver. Members committed themselves to insert coins or bank notes into the boxes every week or month. The boxes were cleared regularly. In the Advent season all members assembled in the pub to make good cheer. And, of course, they received their annual savings which they spent to buy Christmas presents for their families.
Savings cupboards were also a familiar sight in grocery stores. They were used by housewives who inserted their little savings into the boxes.
The German savings banks had been important sponsors of savings clubs. They supported them by lending savings cupboards and setting up a savings account. Usually saving bank's clerks opened the boxes, wrote down the sum the individual members had saved and brought the coins and notes to the bank office.
In their heydays, in the 1960s, there were more than 20 000 clubs sponsored by savings banks. Due to the changing leisure behaviour their number decreased significantly since the 1970s. But one could still see savings cupboards in many pubs all over Germany.