Inflation, interest, and recession are all words we hear on a daily basis, but how many people in the UK know what these money terms mean and more importantly, the impact they have on the pounds in your pocket? Research has found that 3.2 million Brits would say they have ‘no financial knowledge’, which could be impacting their ability to plot their own finances, with 3 in 10 (30%) describing their level of financial knowledge as low or non-existent. We surveyed 5,000 adults in 12 regions and 17 cities in the UK to find out how Brits are managing their finances in 2023.
Which city has the best savers?
As households continuously review budgets and admit to growing pressure on the cost of living, the data signalled a worrying statistic pointing to 1 in 4 (25%) of people in the UK describing their current level of financial stability as ‘unstable’, with Liverpool and Norwich topping the list of cities where the highest number of people describe their financial situation this way.
Money worries and concerns are an emotive topic for UK adults, as over two-fifths (43%) of Brits often experience feelings of hopelessness and despair due to financial difficulties. London reports the lowest level of financial worry: 38% of people here are worried about meeting basic living expenses in the next 12 months, compared to nearly half of people living in Norwich (49%), while Mancunians are more likely to experience physical symptoms resulting from financial stress, such as headaches, than in any other city in the UK (47%, vs a UK average of 41%). However, Belfast tops the survey for the most financially stressed city, with 63% saying they often worry about their financial situation, while also being the city with the highest number of people saying they will cut costs this year (67%).
So what are people doing to improve their financial situation? For more than half of Brits (55%), the answer was simple: cutting costs. For a smaller minority, taking out a loan was a preferred option in London (10%), while Edinburgh reported the highest number of people who answered that they were investing in stocks and funds (19%). In Scotland, Glaswegians are less likely than people in Edinburgh to ask friends and family to borrow money (7%, compared to 10%) in order to improve their financial situation.
On each end of the scale, it’s Belfast where the highest number of people say they have ‘low or no financial knowledge’; while in London, three-quarters (75%) of people would describe themselves as having a high or mid level of financial knowledge.
New data also highlights priorities for people in the UK when it comes to financial planning, with 20% of Brits admitting to never saving any of their monthly income. Our survey showed that Manchester is home to some of the best savers in the UK – with 84% saving money every single month. In terms of what people are saving for, we found that Brighton is the city most likely to be saving for retirement, with nearly a third (29%) saying this is their priority, while people in Plymouth are the least likely to prioritise buying a house in the next five years, with less than 10% describing this as a priority.
Nearly two thirds (61%) of women say they often worry about finances, with 50% of men agreeing with this sentiment. Overall, men tend to be more optimistic about improving their financial situation, with half of our respondents saying they feel optimistic or very optimistic, compared to only a third of women (35%). We found that nearly 1 in 4 men (23%) described they financial situation is ‘unstable’, compared to 28% of women.
And while nearly two thirds (63%) of women say they will cut costs in order to improve their financial situation, only 47% of men agree. Instead, men are more likely to opt for savings and investment products, including opening fixed rate bonds (21% vs 16%), investing in stocks (16% vs 7%) and investing in crypto (9% vs 3%).
When it comes to financial planning, 41% of Brits admit that their top priority for the next 12 months is simply meeting basic living expenses, with the second priority for both groups being building savings for emergencies. However, the third priority for women is saving for special occasions such as birthdays (32%), while more than 1 in 4 men say that it is paying off debt.
The age factor
It’s not necessarily the younger generation who live with the highest level of financial instability: we found that while 1 in 4 Brits aged 18-24 (24%) described their current financial situation as ‘unstable’, this figure then slightly increased in every age group, peaking at 3 in 10 (29%) 45-54 year olds agreeing with this sentiment.
Nearly two thirds (64%) of 25-34 year olds say they often worry about finances, the highest of any age group. Overall though, younger people tend to be more optimistic about their finances, with more than half of 18-24 (52%) and 24-34 (56%) year olds saying they feel optimistic about improving their situation in the next six months, compared to less than 40% of people aged 45 and older.
The 55+ age group is most likely to cut costs in order to improve their financial situation (61%) while the preferred method of 1 in 5 18-24 year olds is borrowing money from friends and family.
A quarter of 18-24 year olds are prioritising saving for a car in the next 12 months, while for 25-34 year olds, their second biggest priority for the next 12 months is paying off debt (35%).
The Raisin UK view
Discussing the findings, Kevin Mountford, co-founder of Raisin UK, highlighted: “A significant number of people are struggling to plan their finances effectively. This is evident across different age groups and income levels, from those who find it challenging to set aside money for unforeseen situations to retirees who struggle to comprehend how to make their retirement savings and pensions work amidst the current economic crisis. Irrespective of anyone’s financial status, understanding how to make informed financial decisions is crucial.
“Our new “Financially Fit in 30 Minutes” initiative seeks to assist consumers in improving their financial literacy and making more informed financial decisions in just half an hour. This campaign aims to address people’s challenges in managing their finances by providing them with easy-to-understand information and guidance.”
Raisin UK surveyed 5,001 adults from 17 UK cities on 21/07/2023. More information available on request.