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Thrifty ingenuity in the cost-of-living crisis
The cost-of-living crisis. Inflation. Energy bills. In the most recent two editions of Health, Wealth & Happiness, we’ve learned the extent to which the economic situation is hurting people’s finances and mental health. This is reality up and down the country and all across the socio-economic spectrum.
Once again in 2023 – in a world where there’s plenty to be anxious about – the cost-of-living crisis is the one thing above all others that’s responsible for driving down our mental health and wellbeing.
Some 31% of UK men, rising to 39% of UK women, pin their ailing mental health on money and the cost-of-living crisis above all other things. And while all age groups are suffering, the financial squeeze is doing more mental health damage to 35-54-year-olds (42%) than it is younger (18-34, 39%) or older folks (55+, 27%).
From big moves to daily changes
There’s not much good news in the above. Not much good news anywhere right now. A lot of Britons have had to make big sweeping changes – we know 2% nationally rising to 4% among 18-34-year-olds have had to move back in with family – to make ends meet.
But the majority of savings aren’t being made by big-ticket means. They live in those everyday behaviour changes that can, it seems, really add up.
For example, nearly one in four (24%) say they’ve switched supermarkets and estimate they’ve racked up over £62 per month in savings as a result. The one in five (21%) now shopping more at charity or second-hand stores say they’re banking an extra £57 per month.
Amazingly, the 5% of Brits who now carpool or take public transport more often have been able to hold onto an extra £85 in an average month. Meanwhile, over half of all Brits (55%) say they’re putting the heating on less and saving £54 per month on average by doing so.
A quarter of us (25%) are using appliances less often and saving £33 on average per month, while changing cooking and eating habits has helped 17% of Brits save £49 per month on average.
Understandably, reducing charitable donations has become necessary and the 16% of Brits doing so have clawed back nearly £31 per head per month as a result. The 3% of us who’ve either stopped or reduced pension contributions have reinjected an average of nearly £160 into the monthly budget.
Who says crime doesn’t pay?
The situation’s not good. Cutting pension and charity contributions – certainly changing living situation – are moves mostly born of necessity.
But in our search for a sliver of silver lining, it’s heartening to read that there’s extra ingenuity in play as Brits claw a little back …
Please note there’s no judgement here. Oh and by the same token, LifeSearch do not advocate illegal anything … isn’t that right, Michael?
Cue sneakery. Did you know you can save nearly £74 per month by sharing your online streaming passwords with friends and family? You do now, if the data handed back to us by UK 18-34-year-olds is anything to go by.
Ditto, illegal streaming – i.e., not paying for shows, films, games or music at all – will save you over £105 per month according, once again, to UK under-35s. Move up an age group and UK 35-54-year-olds are slightly more modest in their thievery - yet still report saving £71.60 per month owing to online chicanery.
My rubber duck? At the gym
We’ve covered the following in previous Health, Wealth & Happiness reports, so at this point showering at the gym or the office are time-tested methods of saving cash.
Nonetheless, we now have a pounds and pence figure to go by and, for the UK as a whole, there’s a steamy hot £68 per month up for grabs if you change hygiene habits.
Similarly, the notion of burning unnecessary heating, lighting and electricity at home when there’s a perfectly good workplace or coworking space nearby hasn’t gone unnoticed. As such, workers reckon they’ve saved a cool £114 per month by working from home less.
Limiting a bad situation
We are trying to lighten the tone on what’s a problematic and stressful chapter for so, so many of us.
The cost-of-living crisis has resulted in more than half (52%) of all Brits saying they feel ‘worse off’ now than they did 12 months ago. And when asked to put a pounds and pence figure on how much worse off we’ll be, all things considered, the national average shook out at £233 per month.
That’s not good, but it’s worse if you’re 18-34.
UK 18-34-year-olds predict they’ll be nearly £367 per month worse off in the next few months. With that, then, you might be more tempted to forgive some password-sharing here and shower-pinching there …
A ‘Searcher since 2015, John is a Protection expert having worked in our customer facing teams and best practice teams, and now is immersed in Protection Content and Marketing.See all articles by John Rogers
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