We could all do with being able to save a bit of extra cash, yet if money was really tight, what would you do to balance the books? Cutting down on luxuries would be a good place to start, yet research from SunLife shows that many people would rather give up food than their mobile phone.
The Cash Happy report from SunLife found that 25% of respondents dip into the red each month, and 21% admit to having no savings whatsoever. Yet despite this, few would be willing to make sacrifices to boost their financial standing: the survey found that, while 23% would be willing to cut down on the food shop to make ends meet, only 16% would give up paid-for TV, 8% would forego their mobile phone, and just 5% would give up the internet.
Indeed, food shopping was third on the list of potential sacrifices, only beaten by clothing/footwear (25%) and eating out, with 36% of respondents saying that this would be first on the list of cutbacks if money was tight. Takeaways were even seen as more important than everyday food shopping, with just 22% of respondents saying they'd be willing to give up such indulgences, while 8% would give up snacks and days out and 13% would curb their entertainment options.
However, a particularly worrying finding was that 10% would cut back on their savings and investments, and while this is an improvement from a year ago (when 12% said this would be one of the first things to give up), it doesn't bode well for the nation's financial security.
Ian Atkinson of SunLife says that the research "says a lot about the way we live our lives these days". We're becoming increasingly reliant on technology, with things like phones, the internet, and streaming paid-for TV becoming a part of our daily lives – and as a result, very difficult to give up.
"On the other hand, things we actually need – food and clothes – are higher on our lists of the things we are willing to cut back on," continued Ian. "Cutting back is essential at times, and with 25% of UK households in the red each month, there are many families that will have to do just that. [Yet] while we would rather cut back on savings than technology or our morning coffee, saving actually makes us happier and gives us long-term financial security, so should only really be considered as a sacrifice as a last resort."
Cutting back on those not-so-essentials could be far more beneficial, and it's here where the costs can quickly ramp up, too. For example, Ian points out that foregoing a daily takeaway coffee before work could save around £50 per month, which could add up to £5,720 over a decade – a nice little nest egg that can be put to far better use. And what about those takeaways or meals out? Making such indulgences a monthly treat rather than a regular occurrence could save a small fortune.
So, start making those cutbacks and see if you can save some cash without needing to give up the essentials. Just make sure to put that extra cash in a savings account so you can see how it all pays off – once you see your balance edging up, you'll soon realise that the sacrifices were worth it!
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