More worried about our waistline than our pocket

Updated: 

group of sticky yellow adhesive note papers with a list of new year's resolutions on the bulletin board

When it comes to making plans for the New Year, it seems we're obsessed with appearances. Some 39% of us will try to lose a bit of weight in the New Year, as we try to rid ourselves of the pounds we're putting on during the festive season. That means around 20 million people waking up to grapefruit and sour faces on New Year's Day.

Meanwhile, on a deeper level, things are getting uglier - because our finances are being neglected.

Resolutions

A survey by thinkmoney.co.uk found that losing weight and doing more exercise were the most popular New Year's resolutions.

Next on the list was giving up smoking: one in ten people – an estimated 5.5 million – said that quitting cigarettes would be on their list of resolutions.

A total of 13.6% of people told thinkmoney that they would drink less or give up drinking altogether in 2014.

It's only after these pledges that finances get a look-in at all. Just over a third of people plan to squirrel money away next year, either by saving more or starting a pension. Nearly a quarter of men and women will resolve to pay off their debts and almost a quarter said they would set a budget and stick to it.

The problem

In reality, many more than a third of us need to save more. A survey by MoneySuperMarket fund that two thirds of people have actually dipped into their savings at some point this year. Some have paid for major expenses, but 28% have had to do it in order to make ends meet. It means that fewer people than ever have sums set aside for a rainy day, so that an unexpected expense could propel us into financial difficulties.

Meanwhile BlackRock has found that only 47% of people are actually saving for their retirement. Many of those aren't saving enough, so there's a shortfall. Scottish Widows calculates that just 40% of women and 49% of men are preparing adequately for retirement. Tony Stenning, BlackRock's head of UK retail says: "In this tough current economic environment it's a struggle to save, but Brits need to begin 2014 with the resolution to kick start an investment regime."

And even those who pledge to get to grips with their finances may be doomed to fail. According to thinkmoney's research, 17% of people expect to fail in their resolve at some point between just one week and a month into the New Year. Around 15% said they would most likely abandon their resolution before the first three months of 2014 were up. Only one third said they would keep to their promises for the whole year.