It hasn't exactly been a great time to be a saver in the last few months, what with political and economic uncertainty rocking the country and savings rates plummeting to record lows on a seemingly monthly basis. That's why it's so reassuring to hear that, not only have there been signs of life in the market of late, but Brits haven't stopped squirreling away their cash, reminding us that we're still a nation of savers.
That's according to research from the West Brom Building Society, which shows that the majority of people surveyed haven't lost their appetite for saving, with 72% classing themselves as regular savers. Indeed, 69% expect to save the same amount in the next 12 months as they did last year, while a further 53% said they'd like to save more, but don't have enough disposable income to do so.
In contrast, only one in five said they'd prefer to live for today than save for tomorrow, so saving really does appear to be ingrained in many of us. Perhaps unsurprisingly, cash still seems to be the savings method of choice – despite rising inflation reducing real returns – with only 25% of respondents prepared to take greater risks with their money to increase their chances of a better return.
However, that's not to say no-one's considering their options. Indeed, there's a growing willingness to consider alternative forms of investment, potentially moving away from the traditional savings account: a third of respondents were prepared to look at stocks & shares and 25% thought property could be lucrative, with other options mentioned including peer-to-peer lending, Premium Bonds and even investing in material goods.
David Taylor, the West Brom's head of Products, commented on the findings: "It is reassuring to see that the majority of people in the UK, particularly in these uncertain economic times, see themselves as savers. Putting money aside figures strongly in people's minds, and they believe it's important to build themselves a financial buffer … Our survey showed that people do generally have a strong grip on their finances and regularly review their financial position, something we would strongly advocate."
So, do you still class yourself as a saver? Hopefully you're still setting money aside on a regular basis, but with rates as low as they are, it's vital to stay on the ball to make sure you're getting the best returns possible. That means comparing the top savings accounts and switching if you can find a better deal, and you may want to consider high interest current accounts for at least a portion of your savings.
If you need a bit of a push to get in the savings habit, a regular savings account could be ideal, but make sure you've got an easy access version as a financial buffer. And, if you're looking for even better returns, it may be worth thinking outside the box. "Diversifying investments can help some people get more out of their money, albeit with careful consideration for any risks involved," said David, so it could be worth dipping a tentative toe in the investment waters. You could start with a stocks & shares ISA, provided you understand the risks, and remember that you may end up with less than you put in. However you choose to go about it, make sure to continue saving and keep the nation's habit going.
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