Dutch Quirk #20: Be overwhelmingly stingy

HomeUltimate List of Dutch QuirksDutch Quirk #20: Be overwhelmingly stingy

The Netherlands is famously a well-organised, well-developed, and economically thriving country, so why are they also known for being so overwhelmingly stingy?

The Dutch respect for order and fairness is visible even in the tiniest details of everyday life. 

Be it in the form of bonus cards for grocery shopping, sending tikkies for virtually nothing, or the humble Dutch lunch consisting of a broodje met kaas — the Dutch are certainly known for having tight wallets. 

What is it?

Being stingy is not a purely Dutch phenomenon, many Nordic countries have similar traditions, but it is noticeably ever-present in the Dutch lifestyle.

After a dinner with friends, it is not uncommon to receive (several!) tikkies (the Dutch money-transfer system) for as little as a few euros per person. 

READ MORE | What is Tikkie? How to use the Dutch’s favourite payment system

Some non-Dutch inhabitants might find the stingy tradition inconvenient, stressful, or even rude. Still, the Dutch love for order, fairness, and clarity makes it hard to challenge their habits on this particular topic. 

It is also crucial for the Dutch to stay up to date on the latest “bonus” offers at their local grocery store — or even travel to a different one to save a few cents.

READ MORE | Calvinism in the Netherlands: why are the Dutch so Calvinist in nature? 

To the Dutch, not having a bonus card is almost like not having a bank card or a public transport card. After all, why would you pay €1,75 for a loaf of bread when you can pay €1,25? 

@dutchreview Don't invoke their wrath 😅 #dutchreview #tikkie #expatsinthenetherlands #internationalstudents #internationals ♬ original sound – DutchReview

How much the Dutch love saving money is also visible in the rental market. 🏙️

Newly settled internationals who have just started renting an apartment in a Dutch city might feel relieved and proud to have landed a contract that promises any repairs or fixes to be covered by the landlord.

They are in for a nasty surprise, however, since Dutch landlords are famously hesitant to go out of their way to follow up on their promises. 

READ MORE | 9 kooky things about renting in the Netherlands

Why do they do it?

There are several theories behind why the Dutch are so stingy. 

Some say it is part of the culture of independence one can find in many western countries – that the Dutch are obsessed with being self-sufficient, and that saving every possible cent is part of being independent. 

Others say saving is simply a part of being a well-developed, economically thriving country — if you don’t save, you won’t get rich!

The most likely explanation is probably that the Dutch are famously organised and structured, and that this quirk is particularly visible when it comes to money. 🤷 

Why is it quirky?

In most places around the world, people wouldn’t send a tikkie request for €2 after a casual dinner with friends.

In most places, people wouldn’t have the energy to change their grocery habits for the sake of saving a few cents.

@dutchreview Sending a Tikkie after a date, yay or nay? 🤔 #dutchreview #fyp #capcut #netherlands #lifeinthenetherlands #expatlife #MemeCut #voorjou ♬ original sound – DutchReview

But the Dutch are not like people in other places, and if there is money to save it is considered obvious — not rude, to make sure you save it.

Should you join in?

Being stingy is not for everyone, and if you can avoid it — why not? That being said, saving money, even if it means asking your friends to pay for a tablespoon of hummus, is always convenient. 

Plus, since it won’t be considered rude, the Dutch culture is the perfect environment to practice the skill of stinginess to perfection!

What do you think of this Dutch quirk? Have you experienced it? Tell us in the comments below!

Feature Image:Depositphotos
Juni Moltubak
Juni Moltubak
Juni moved to the Netherlands after realizing how expensive tuition fees in the UK are, and never regretted her choice of studying in The Hague. After three years of Political Science, she is ready for a new adventure — an internship at DutchReview! When you don’t see her typing on her laptop she can be found strolling around Haagse Bos or sitting in her lovely garden scrolling through interior design TikToks.


  1. I call this thrifty, not stingy. A stingy person is motivated by meanness and selfishness. A thrifty person wants to avoid waste and save for the future. I am half Dutch (American) and grew up with the same thrift. Those thrifty people are not selfish but also do not thoughtlessly throw away what they have accumulated through thrift.

  2. It’s sad that the way of living in a small part of the Netherlands is presented as typical Dutch.
    It may be true that in a few provinces in the Netherlands stinginess prevails, but not in all provinces. This website often misrepresents the differences in culture between the Dutch provinces by projecting the culture and way of living from a few provinces on all of the Netherlands.
    For your information: Going Dutch isn’t quite as common in Limburg and Brabant as it is in North- and South-Holland. Neither is sending Tikkies for ridiculous amounts, or giving visitors just one tiny cup of coffee with one cookie.
    It may have also escaped the attention that the Netherlands is among the most generous countries with 0.82% of the gross national income donated to development aid.
    So yeah, Hollanders may be stingy, but it’s not typical Dutch.


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