We spoke to more than 2,000 people about their attitudes and opinions when it comes to saving money. Why? Because we’ve set an ambitious target to get more people saving money, and we want to understand more about people’s relationship with their finances so we can start conversations about saving and encourage positive change.
We asked about people’s current and desirable savings habits, spending and saving priorities and how they’ll fund upcoming holidays and what they’d be prepared to sacrifice in an effort to save more money, amongst other things.
So what did we find out? We’ll be releasing the full findings over time, but you can see some initial key stats below…
People who lose their income are unlikely to have enough savings to get by
This highlights how fragile many people’s financial situation can be. In fact, it’s much less than the recommended savings cushion, which as The Money Advice Service suggests, should be equivalent to three months’ salary.
Pressure to spend
Almost half (49%) of those surveyed felt pressure to spend money as a result of what they see on social media, and a third (33%) feel they need to spend to keep up with family and friends.
Perhaps interestingly, higher earners are twice as likely to try and keep up appearances with friends and family than those on minimum wage.
Opinions on savers
‘Saving’ seems to have an image problem. Whether it’s the rise of social media prompting a desire to spend money to keep up with others, or the constantly ‘switched- on’ ability to purchase items around the clock, more conversations happen about purchases, than putting money to one side for a rainy day.
That said, the perception of savers, whether it’s spoken about or not, is generally positive.
Our findings show people believe:
Money and mental health
Everyday challenges and juggling the demands of a busy life can limit how much we put away. But the consequences of not saving are increasingly clear – for mental health, for personal relationships and working lives.
Previous research shows people with money worries are 7.6 times more likely not to finish daily tasks; 8.8 times more likely to have sleepless nights and 5.7 times more likely to have troubled relationships at work.
In comparison, our research found that those who save, generally say it makes them feel positive.
The top three words used by respondents when asked to describe their feelings about saving money were:
Getting Britain Saving
You can find out more about our ambition to get an additional 1.8m non-savers saving over the next five years here , but in a nutshell, the facts show we’re a nation of spenders and not savers.
As a nation we simply aren’t saving enough, demonstrated by the fact the UK comes 19th in the league table of savers in comparison to the rest of Europe.
11m people are non-savers, 7.5m of whom are in work . While we know saving can be difficult for some people, the consequences of not saving are clear – it can impact mental health, personal relationships and working lives.
We want to help change the savings landscape. We know it won’t be overnight, but by understanding more about the challenges people face, their attitudes to saving and spending and the pressures they may be under, we hope to start conversations about money and help the UK become more financially resilient.
We know you might have some questions or observations about the current savings environment. We really do understand that it can be tough for people to save. We also appreciate some people may not be motivated to save money while rates are so low.
We’re not shying away from that and hope answers to some of the questions our members have previously asked us below, will help to explain more.
Are you going to put your interest rates up to support your aim to get more people to save?
This is a bigger issue than savings rates. While we’ll always review our rates in line with the rest of the market, just one in ten (11%) working adults cite poor interest rates as a reason not to save. Other reasons include not knowing how to, not having the time, not being able to afford to and not knowing where to find information about saving. We want to focus on raising awareness of the importance of building financial resilience and encouraging those who can, to take steps to improve their financial habits.
Why are savings rates so low at the moment?
Savings rates, like all rates, will go up and down over time. Banks and building societies need to make sure they don’t attract more money through savings than they can sensibly lend through mortgages. The two are interlinked so it doesn’t make sense for us, or others, to offer rates that aren’t sustainable. On average last year though, we offered rates which were 0.37% higher than the market, which equates to around £100m in additional interest to our members.
Why would people want to save while the economy is so uncertain?
As our and other research shows, many working adults lack the financial resilience to cope with an income shock. Without savings people are more likely to rely on credit, and the interest rates on short-term borrowing are much higher meaning it’ll cost much more in the long run. Having savings would help to prevent the need for credit and likely reduce associated stress and worries that come with having no savings buffer.
Isn’t it in your self-interest as a building society to encourage people to save?
As a building society our sole purpose is to help people save for life’s opportunities and challenges, and to own their own home. It’s what we’ve been doing for 150 years. However, this isn’t about encouraging people to save their money with us necessarily – it’s about raising awareness of the importance of saving full stop, and helping people understand the need to have a financial safety net and get into the habit of saving.
All information correct at time of publication.
The research was carried out online by Research Without Barriers – RWB. All surveys were conducted between 8th May 2019 and 14th May 2019. The sample comprised 2,014 UK adults.
All research conducted adheres to the UK Market Research Society (MRS) code of conduct (2014)
RWB is registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office and complies with the DPA (1998)
i Based on a survey of 10,053 people conducted online by Salary Finance. https://www.salaryfinance.com/
ii Yorkshire Building Society analysis of the Financial Conduct Authority’s Financial Lives Survey. https://www.fca.org.uk/
iii Financial Conduct Authority’s Financial Lives survey
iv Yorkshire Building Society average savings rate compared to rest of market average rates based on savings stock from CACI’s Current Account and Savings Database (CSDB), covering 87% of the retail savings market (based on stock value). Data period January to November 2018.