How your personality affects the way you save

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We're constantly being urged to put money by for the future - but new data shows that some people find it harder than others.

According to an analysis from credit reporting service Noddle, households in Sunderland, Durham and Wakefield are the least likely to have money in savings.

While almost nine in ten people in wealthy Guildford have some money put away, only 47% of households in Sunderland have any at all.

However, southerners are less likely to be paying into a pension, with fewer than a quarter of people in Camden, the City of Westminster, and Islington having one.

But it turns out that however bad you are at saving, you can do better if your strategy matches your personality, says behavioural economist Professor Ivo Vlaev.

He carried out an experiment based on Noddle's data, creating personalised programmes based on three different strategies: keeping track, making ends meet and planning ahead.

And, he found, planning ahead was the most successful overall, with the saver setting a specific goal, such as paying for a holiday, and using a tracker to record progress.

This works best with people who are good at delayed gratification - indeed, one participant managed to bump up their savings from an average £44 per fortnight to a whacking £1,548.

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"Changing our financial habits isn't easy – but it can be done. Working with Noddle we've found that it's crucial to be honest with yourself about your own behaviour and what makes you tick," says Professor Vlaev.

"For example, if you're the type of person who can eat half a chocolate bar, wrap it up and put it away then you're more likely to find a 'planning ahead' type model works for you."

On the other hand, he says, if you're good at remembering future intentions and get an emotional buzz when you spend money, then 'making ends meet' will be a better match for your habits and abilities.

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"Having talked to Professor Vlaev, I realised that I'm quite influenced by how other people spend their money," says Londoner Sarah Baptiste.

"The 'planning ahead' model made me focus on my goals – the home improvements I want to do and a holiday to Barbados I'd love to take. The process did make me think about how much I was saving towards these, and whilst I still love the buzz of shopping, saving for those future events seems more achievable now."

So which strategy could work for you?

Keeping track
Do you trust yourself with money, and are you good at forming long term habits? Can you eat just half a chocolate bar? If so, then keeping track is probably the best way to go.

To make checking your bank account a regular habit, says Professor Vlaev, you should associate it with something you enjoy. Try checking your account along with your afternoon cup of tea and biscuit, or just before you scroll through Facebook.

Making ends meet
This technique works best for people who can recognise they have strong habits; get a big buzz from shopping; and care a lot about their social status.

If this is you, the best way to save is probably to identify your regular wastes of money and substitute something else instead. If you buy a takeaway coffee every morning, for example, you could try saving it for a proper meeting with a friend, when you'll probably enjoy it far more.

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Planning ahead
This is one for people that can easily visualise their future and consider how purchases affect them in the long term.

They'll save the most by setting a three-month saving goal, broken down into fortnightly targets. It's always good to see what you are saving for, so get a picture of your goal – whether that's a holiday, handbag or house – and write a statement on it to keep you motivated. Stick it on your fridge or desk so you see it every day.


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Save money on shopping: ten great tricks
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Save money on shopping: ten great tricks

The more work you are prepared to put in, the more you stand to save. If you put your shopping list into mysupermarket.com, you can identify where each individual items is cheapest, and can technically buy every single item at its lowest possible price.

If that sounds a bit too much like hard work, a reasonable compromise is to shop at two supermarkets: once at the weekend and once mid-week. You can buy each item at the cheapest of the two shops, and save money without devoting hours to shopping.

There are several deal-sharing sites, including hotukdeals.com and latestdeals.co.uk. Most of them have a ‘freebies’ section, where you can get items completely free, and all have a section where they post fantastic deals that are well worth taking advantage of.

They will often point the way to coupons for brilliant discounts too.

The more time you have spare to spend looking for these, the more you can save.

It’s worth following your favourite brands on Facebook or Twitter. It’s also important to pick up in-house magazines, try your free local paper, and check any letters from supermarket loyalty schemes for your vouchers. If you have a Nectar card, visit the website before you shop, so you can upload the latest deals to your card.

While you’re in-store, keep your eyes peeled for promotions on packets, and on receipts. Often the deal-hunting websites will offer a short cut to many of these, but if you have the opportunity to do some legwork, you will find plenty of others.

Compare the price of your branded goods (after you use the coupon) with the cheapest supermarket alternative. If the discount makes it the cheapest option, then feel free to use it immediately.

However, if it doesn’t bring the price down below the own brand price, then don't throw it away. Hang onto the coupon, and check Mysuupermarket.com every few days to see if there’s an offer running on the brand at any time before the coupon expires. A deal plus a coupon is often the cheapest option.

Prices change all the time, but it pays to have a shopping list annotated with the usual price - or an old receipt - on hand when you are shopping. When something is on sale, compare it to the usual selling price from your list, to decide if it’s really as good value as it purports to be.
The frugal experts have decent storage areas at home, so if there’s a very special deal on washing powder or toilet paper, tins or toiletries, they can stock up for a few months at a knock-down price. It’s not generally worth doing on fresh produce, or packets with a short shelf life though, because throwing something away that’s out of date will undo all of your good work.
There can be some incredible bargains in the ‘yellow sticker’ sections of the supermarket. Most stores will have a spot for fruit and vegetable reductions, somewhere for chilled food price cuts, one for bakery products, and a final one for those with a longer shelf life that may be a bit battered, or separated from the outer packaging. Check them all for a possible discount.

The ’yellow sticker’ items will usually be reduced at least twice a day: once in the afternoon and once later in the evening. If you can wait to shop at around 7.30pm or 8pm you can get astonishing discounts.

If you want to time your shop exactly, then your best bet is to ask in store when they do their final reductions - don't be shy!

Get to know the rules around freezing ‘yellow sticker’ items, so you can buy when they are cheapest and use over the following weeks and months.

Don't assume something is perishable without checking. Everything from cheese to beansprouts is fine to freeze as long as you treat them correctly (beansprouts need blanching, chilling in ice water, and freezing immediately).

It’s never worth buying something just because it’s cheap: you also have to be able to factor it into your life. If you can't immediately think how you would use that over-ripe avocado, a pack of cut-price tongue or kippers, then don't buy them.
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