Paying off debts is currently a higher priority for consumers than saving, according to the latest research from the Association of British Insurers (ABI).
During the final three months of 2009, more than four in ten (42%) respondents said they had started paying off their non-mortgage debt faster than previously, up from 34% a year earlier.
Meanwhile, of those saving regularly, only 17% said they expect to be saving more in 2010, down from 24% who felt the same way in the previous quarter.
Yet despite a reluctance to put money away, more people regard themselves as savers than spenders.
More than a third (37%) thought they should be classed as a saver compared with 31% that thought they were spenders.
Fewer than one fifth said they would rather get into debt than go without.
The research also revealed that consumer confidence dropped as 2009 drew to a close, with a third of respondents expecting the economy to worsen in the coming year. Concerns over job security also increased.
"These findings highlight how important it is for any government to deliver policies that appeal to consumers' increasing sense of financial responsibility, helping more people become financially independent by increasing saving as well as reducing debt," said Dr Rebecca Driver, the ABI's director of research and chief economist.
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