More than 16 million people in the UK have less than £100 in savings, according to a study by the Money Advice Service. Thanks to sky high living expenses and wages that have failed to increase in line with inflation, it’s no surprise that so many people are struggling.
However, it’s wrong to assume that those on low salaries are automatically the ones without savings. In fact, a quarter of adults earning less than £13,500 a year have £1,000 or more saved for a rainy day. And 40% of people in that income bracket manage to save a little bit of money each month. Meanwhile, many of those who could potentially save money for the future are wasting their cash unnecessarily.
If you suspect your lack of savings might be the result of your inability to ‘adult’, rather than a consequence of issues outside of your control, see this as a good thing. Your financial future is 100% within your control and it’s not too late to alter your behaviour and build up a healthy saving stash. No one else is going to do it for you. It’s up to you!
Here are 8 signs your lack of savings is your own fault:
1. You don’t know where your money is going
If you have too much month left over at the end of your money, it may be tempting to blame essential living costs such as rent, bills and food costs. But do you actually know where all your money is going? Unless you’ve spent time tracking your spending and assessing exactly what’s going where, how can you know for sure? Spend an afternoon going through your bank statements and logging how much you spend on essentials vs non-essentials. You may be surprised at the results.
2. You refuse to shop second hand
Shopping second hand instead of buying everything new is a huge money saver. Need a new winter coat? Charity shops have tons. Need a new piece of furniture? Preloved is your mate. Fancy treating yourself to a new Xbox game? Head on over to CeX, my friend.
Don’t moan about how skint you are when everything you buy is new. By buying pre-owned stuff when you can, you’ll be able to filter some extra cash right into your emergency fund.
3. You waste food
Do you often throw food away? Whether you scrape leftovers from your dinner straight into the bin or let salad go bad in the fridge, you may as well be throwing money away. Make it your mission to curb food waste and you’re likely to see your finances improve. Here are more than 50 ways to avoid food waste and save money in the process.
4. You have a car you don’t need
Whether you bought your car outright or you’re financing it, running a vehicle you don’t actually need is a colossal waste of money. By getting rid of your set of wheels and taking public transport instead, you could potentially save thousands. Stash that money in a high interest account and save it for an emergency or a better investment than a car.
5. You smoke
If you spend a tenner a day on cigs, don’t come crying to me about how skint you are. Have words with yourself and quit. I realise that stopping smoking is actually really hard, but plenty of people do it and you can too.
6. You have a casual drug habit*
I have a friend who regularly complains about how impossible it is for him to save money because ‘the economy, innit’. Yet every Friday he goes out after work and snorts coke in a grotty nightclub toilet.
Whether you like smoking weed at home or doing pills on a night out, your casual drug habit is eating away at your finances. Drugs might be feel pretty great but do you know what’s even more great? Not having to take out a payday loan when you landlord kicks you out and refuses to return your deposit back because your living room stinks of skunk and you’ve burned several holes in the couch.
*I’ve said ‘casual drug habit’ because if you’re fully addicted, this is a separate issue and one that you may need help with. You can get help here.
7. You’re too proud to accept help from your parents
If you’re fortunate enough to be offered help from your parents, take it. Whether they invite you to move in with them for a few months or offer to pay for your weekly food shop so you can tackle your debt, accept help if they’re willing and able.
Not everyone is this fortunate but there are a lot of people out there who are given these opportunities and pass them up because they’re too proud and ‘independent’. There’s nothing independent about driving yourself further into debt because you were too embarrassed to live with your mum for six months.
Besides, a bit of short term help from your ma and pa could set you up for a lifetime of independence. Take this opportunity to save an emergency fund, a house deposit or climb out of debt.
8.You don’t make any effort to boost your income
Although the government has a lot to answer for when it come to the finances of people in their twenties, many of us do have the power to boost our income ourselves. We can:
- Work overtime
- Work towards a promotion
- Ask for a pay rise
- Look for a better paid job
- Pick up freelance work
- Side hustle
It’s frustrating because we shouldn’t have to do the above things to live comfortably and save money for the future. Someone working a minimum wage job should have enough to live and save. We shouldn’t have to take up second jobs or constantly strive for a promotion or freelance outside of work or spend every evening eBaying our dead Grandma’s ornaments to the highest bidder. We should be able to do our day jobs and enjoy our time outside of work. But guess what, honey? The Tories don’t give a shit and until they do (they wont), you’re gonna have to hustle if you don’t want to be skint.
I realise this post might seem really harsh, but the sooner you take responsibility for your finances and learn to prioritise the things that really matter to you, the sooner you can improve your life and set yourself up for a more secure future.
Imagine how amazing life would feel if you were free from debt and money struggles. Imagine having a healthy financial cushion in the event of an emergency. Imagine being able to pay for large life milestones without having to get in debt. Imagine being able to buy your own home, travel the world or retire early. All this is possible if you ditch your bad money habits and prioritise the things that matter most to you.