Brits save fifth more than in 2004

BY3BDB USA, New Jersey, Jersey City, Saving up for rainy day. Image shot 2010. Exact date unknown.

%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%Britons are saving one fifth more than they were a decade ago by putting an average of £98 a month aside for a rainy day.

Despite sluggish wage growth and the squeeze on household finances, research by Treasury-backed savings provider NS&I found people are saving the equivalent of 7.76% of their incomes every month. This compares with an average of £82 a month, or 6.70% of their incomes, 10 years ago.
Women have also been narrowing the gap to save almost as much as men do over the period as a percentage of their income. Women now put £81 a month away typically, equating to around 7.76% of their income, while men save £115 a month on average, or around 7.81% of their wages.

But the gender divide looks set to continue in the coming months, with 16% of women saying they are more likely to save money in the next quarter, compared with 18% of men.

Savings levels peaked at 8.31% of average incomes in spring 2011 and the amount put away each month still has yet to exceed a high of £104 recorded in winter 2012.

Patrick Connolly, head of communications at financial advisers Chase de Vere, said the financial crisis has helped educate people on the importance of saving money but that Britons were still not doing enough.

"Too many people still don't recognise the need for long-term savings, naively believing the state or their employer will look after them in retirement, while others are simply unable to save more as their household budgets have been squeezed," he warned.

The NS&I's survey of more than 2,400 adults also highlighted how technology improvements are causing a major shift in the way people are managing their money.

With 74% now sorting out their finances online compared with 29% a decade ago, only half of those surveyed said they were visiting branches in person as more turn to smartphones and tablets to save time.

But despite increasing access to banking services, 28% said they feel more worried about saving money than they did 10 years ago, and only 14% were more confident.

Figures released yesterday show that pressure of household living costs is continuing to ease back, which could help more people to boost their savings.

The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) rate of inflation dipped to 1.9% in January and experts predict that inflation will remain under a target of 2% throughout 2014, fuelling hopes that wage growth will finally overtake rises in the cost of living.

But with the Bank of England base rate having remained at its historic 0.5% low for more than five years, savers' struggle to find real returns on their cash pots continues.

According to financial information website Moneyfacts, fewer than one in 10 savings accounts on the market offer returns that will beat tax and inflation. The average rate being offered on a tax-free cash Isa has dropped from 1.74% a year ago to 1.66%.

NS&I's research also found that the number of people saving for a holiday or special occasion has dropped to 40% from 47% in 2007.

Fewer people are saving towards a home or retirement. The proportion of people saving to buy a property, make home improvements or make mortgage payments has dipped from two fifths (41%) in 2007 to just one third (33%).

Less than one quarter (22%) of people said they are putting some money into savings specifically for their retirement, down from 38% in 2007.

12 ways to save £10,000 in 2014
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Brits save fifth more than in 2004
Mortgage rates are low at the moment, but even if you feel that your mortgage is a pretty good deal already, for a lot of borrowers there are better rates to be had. It's crucial to get the sums right – high upfront admin costs from a new lender or large early repayment fees from your existing mortgage provider could wipe out any savings. But, says David Hollingworth of brokers London & Country: "If you have an average standard variable rate (SVR) of 4.75%, a borrower with a £150,000 repayment mortgage over 20 years would pay £969.34 each month. Switching to a two-year fix with Norwich & Peterborough BS at 1.99% with £295 fee, free valuation and free legal work for remortgage would cut the payment to £758.11 a month, saving £211.23p.m." Over a year, that would mean a saving of £2,240, even with a £295 up front fee, and £2535 in following years.
Potential saving: £2,535
Your home and contents insurance may be costing more than it needs to. Gocompare.comdata shows that 25% of customers who provided their buildings and contents insurance renewal price saved up to almost £160 by changing to a new provider.
Potential saving: £160
With today's high cost of fuel, running a car is an expensive business. For a lot of people, particularly where public transport is sparse, giving up a car altogether is too big a challenge. But perhaps you could use it less, and take steps to bring down the cost of driving when it's unavoidable. The Energy Saving Trust says that just keeping your tyres pumped up correctly can save £31 a year, and turning off the air conditioning can save £77. Follow all the advice on the Energy Saving Trust's app, such as lift sharing and keeping your speed down, and the organisation claims you could save as much as £554 a year for a medium car covering medium mileage.
Potential saving: £554
If you haven't changed car insurer recently, the chances are you could save a lot of money by doing so now. According to research from Consumer Intelligence for, in October 2013, 51% of consumers could save up to £242.55 by moving to a new insurance provider. There are plenty of comparison sites to try, including AOL Compare, so it really doesn't take long to find a cheaper deal.
Potential saving: £243
Start by finding out whether you could get a cheaper deal from a different energy supplier. If you haven't changed in the past, you probably can. According to, you could save around £309 a year just by switching to a cheaper deal (based on customers who switched energy supplier for both gas and electricity (dual fuel) using the Energylinx platforms between 1 July and 30 September 2013).

Over the long term, there are plenty of ways to bring down bills that involve a relatively large outlay up front, such as ensuring your home is properly insulated. But just cutting your current energy use can have a huge impact on your energy bills. Some of the steps you can take are just a question of habit changing, such as switching appliances off instead of leaving them on standby. The Energy Saving Trust reckons the average household could save £50 and £90 a year just by unplugging or switching off at the socket. And turning down the washing machine temperature to 30 degrees, using a washing up bowl instead of leaving the tap running and only putting as much water in the kettle as you need can save you as much as £55 a year. Draught-proofing will save another £55, and proper 270mm loft insulation could save you up to £180 a year – taking into account the cost of fitting it the savings will take a couple of years to kick in.
Potential saving: £689 (far more if you take all the right steps in the home)
According to the NHS, most people who quit smoking save almost £2,000 a year. On top of that you get to feel healthier. What's not to love?
Potential saving: £2,000
Or at least, make your own. If you work in a town or city, the temptation to pop in and get a coffee can be strong. There's something comforting about sipping a hot coffee from those nice warm paper cups as you gear up for the working day. But if you stop to add up what it costs (including the cup), it may leave you cold. A Starbucks medium (OK, tall) latte costs £2.60 on the Strand in London. If you have one of those five days a week, 46 weeks a year (allowing for four weeks holiday), that means you are spending close to £600 – a tall price for a caffeine fix. If you make your own, a Bodum coffee maker costs £20 and a kilo of coffee costs around £13 and will make roughly 120 – 140. Missing the cup for the walk to work? Buy a Thermos mug for around £10. For £43, plus the price of milk, you can have coffee on the go all year round.
Potential saving: £557
It's a familiar scenario for many well-intentioned would-be gym bunnies. You sign up super motivated. You buy new workout gear, perhaps you work out regularly at the start. But then something – a holiday, a nasty cold, late nights at work – breaks your momentum and you stop going to the gym. Eventually your workout clothes lounge around in the cupboard while the gym keeps your bank balance trim by taking that direct debit each month. Gym memberships vary, but if you pay £80 a month for full membership, that's £960 a year's worth of good intentions. Invest in some proper running shoes – you can spend a fortune but specialist shop Run and Become has decent shoes for £50 – and hit the road. Need motivation? Download a free app such as Couch to 5k to get you started and track your progress as you get fitter.
Potential saving: £910
The range of mobile tariffs can be baffling. Many people end up on the wrong deal, perhaps paying for call time or extras they don't really need or use. There are a number of online tools and apps you can use to check your bill is not too high, such as Billmonitor and Mobilife. Enter your existing details and see if you could save money. In 2012, Billmonitor reckoned 26 million consumers in Britain were paying over the odds by as much as £164. The savings you could make will vary hugely, but it's certainly worth taking a look to see what you could save.

Apps like Viber and Whats App are also worth a mention as they allow you to text and call (Viber only) other users for free who have the apps on their smartphones. Whats App has ayearly subscription fee of around 65p, but the only other cost is the data on your smartphone plan if you're using 3G.

And when it comes to your broadband and home phone, it pays to find out if you are on the best deal. Dominic Baliszewski, telecoms expert at says: "Our own analysis has highlighted time and time again that a high proportion of customers do not actually switch broadband regularly enough to benefit from better pricing, which is crazy when you consider that switching can save you over £200 from your annual bill. Switching levels for broadband are woefully low when compared with energy or insurance services."
Potential saving: £364
In the UK, households throw away an estimated 25 meals each month, worth a total of £60 a month or £720 each year. Avoid buying too much food, even when it seems like you are saving money. Try not to 'take advantage' of bulk buy deals you may not use, make good use of your freezer for fresh foods rather than putting them in the fridge and forgetting them, and change a few of your shopping and eating habits and you may save money.

Make a list and stick to it. Shopping online can help you avoid temptation, and if you do your shopping on, you could save even more. Enter your items as you would on a supermarket site, and it will find the cheapest supermarket for your needs saving on average £17 a shop, according to the site. On a weekly basis that makes £884.

Growing your own vegetables can also save money, although the set up costs can be relatively high if you are starting from scratch. But some foods are cheap and easy to grow, even if you have little space. If you are in the habit of buying bagged salad, you could easily save a significant sum by growing your own. Jane Perrone, gardening editor of the Guardian and author of The Allotment Keeper's Handbook, says: "The materials to grow your own probably cost something shy of £20 a year, for seeds and compost mainly - I usually use recycled containers." A standard bag of salad from a supermarket costs around £1, so if you would usually buy one bag a week, you would spend around £52 a year.
Potential saving: £1,636
A Sky Sports bundle costs £43.50 a month, that's £522 a year. It's enough to take you somewhere sunny on holiday. It's enough to buy a whole new wardrobe full of clothes. Or, more importantly, several weekly food shops. Whatever else you could do with that money, it's certainly enough to make you think twice about whether or not you want to keep paying those subscription fees.
Potential saving: £522
You might not be able to pay your credit card off straight away, but you can cut the cost. If your credit card has a rate of 18.9% and you have a balance of £5,000, then you could save £472 by doing a balance transfer to a credit card with a 0% introductory deal for the first six months.
Potential saving: £472
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