There are some people who pride themselves on their sensible saving, careful budgeting, and the joys of a hard-won retirement nest egg. For others, the siren call of the shops is simply too much to bear. Whether you are a squanderer or a squirreller will determine so much about the way you live, and the future you have to look forward to. So which one are you?
Take our quick quiz to find out.
1. It's pay day, what's the first thing you spend money on?
a) The direct debits set up for paying bills and putting money aside for the future
b) A treat for making it to pay day
c) The minimum credit card repayment
2. When was the last time you revisited your budget?
a) I like to do it at least once a year, to see whether I can afford to pay more into my pension
b) I really keep meaning to budget, to stop me going overdrawn
c) Budgets are for people who don't own credit cards
3. What do you think of 'retail therapy'?
a) It's an irritating excuse people use to spend money they don't need to
b) It's a great way to cheer yourself up, but I have made one or two purchases I regret
c) I do so much of it I could teach it
4. Something catches your eye while you're out shopping, what do you do?
a) Walk away and wait a day, considering carefully if this is something you really need
b) Buy it, but feel guilty about it
c) Snap it up before it goes, you can worry about the cost later
5. What would you do if the washing machine needed replacing?
a) Buy one with some of my emergency savings - after shopping around for the best deal
b) Buy one on interest free credit and do my best to pay it off before the interest kicked in
c) Stick it on the credit card
6. When a new phone/games console/tablet is released, what do you think?
a) I'll consider all the options later, when my current one needs replacing and I have saved enough to buy it
b) I'd love one. What can I make from selling my old one? And what kind of deal can I get on credit for the rest?
c) I definitely need it now.
7. How long do you save for Christmas?
a) All year: I set something aside every month
b) I try to save in October and November, but it doesn't always work out that way
c) Save? I'm still paying off the debts from last year
8. When did you start saving for a pension?
a) As soon as I could afford it, in my 20s
b) Later than I should have, in my 30s or 40s
c) I don't have enough spare cash to save for a pension, and I can't see that changing
9. Who is to blame for all the debt people carry?
a) People have to take responsibility for their own finances; they have no-one to blame but themselves
b) It's hard to live without debt nowadays, especially if you start your adult life with student debts
c) It's not my fault, it's too easy for people to borrow too much
10. How much debt do you have?
a) Just my mortgage, and I'm doing my best to pay that down as quickly as I can afford to
b) More than I'd like, but everyone goes into debt occasionally don't they?
c) I have no idea, but probably quite a lot
If you answered mostly A then you can go straight to the top of the sensible financial planning class. You save for things, plan for the future, and make sensible, reasoned choices about everything you spend money on. You'll never know the heady rush of splurging your cash on a whim, but with any luck it means you shouldn't face the misery when the money runs out either.
Probably like most people in the UK, you try to emulate the squirreler, but your inner squanderer sometimes overwhelms you. You don't need to feel bad about this, because it's how most people live. However, it doesn't mean you can afford to be complacent.
Only you will know how you are doing with this balance, and whether your savings and debts are healthy enough for you to continue as you are. If your finances are looking less than rosy, don't just feel guilty, you need to do something about it, and spend some time practicing the habits of a squirreller to get yourself back on track.
You are an unashamed squanderer. You have all the excitement of buying what you want, when you want it. However, unless you happen to have been born into fabulous wealth or have won the lottery, there's also a very serious risk that you have a growing debt problem.
If you don't have it in your heart to sit down and work out what you are spending, what you are earning, and just how much debt you have, then you need to take it all to someone who can help you. This may be a friendly and non-judgemental squirreller, who can help you get things back under control, or it could be a debt charity like StepChange or Citizens Advice, who can offer impartial advice.