While savers are often applauded for their self-control in putting money aside, it may be the case that a large number are not the brilliant budgeteers they claim to be.
According to new research, around two-thirds of savers admit to looking to their savings when they want to buy themselves a treat, rather than starting a separate fund or sourcing money from elsewhere. Price comparison site Moneysupermarket has published the results of a survey indicating that many regularly raid the piggy bank to buy things which might be better funded by cheap loans.
The habit would be less surprising should consumers be saving in order to purchase high-value items or explicitly to fund such personal rewards – but in many instances this is not the case. Some 54 per cent of people stated that they save for peace of mind should unexpected expenses arise, while almost the same number (53 per cent) were saving for the future or for their retirement. Furthermore, consumers are not raiding their savings to cover the cost of unforeseen necessities such as repairing or replacing a broken boiler, but are instead spending on fripperies for themselves, which might be better funded with low-cost fast loans. When it comes to addressing a problem such as central heating repair or the replacement of white goods, only 56 per cent turn to their savings, while other consumers rely either on income, secured loans or unsecured loans.
Kevin Mountford, head of savings at Moneysupermarket, said: “It’s interesting to see many savers full of good intentions can’t resist a sneaky dip into their cash to treat themselves – and that treats take priority over necessities that can’t be planned for, such as a car repair or a washing machine to replace the one that’s just packed up.” He added that spending on lifestyle extras was not a problem in itself, but that without controlling withdrawals, financial issues could arise: “There is no harm in this as long as there is an element of control – constantly dipping in will leave saving a pretty defunct purpose and those hoping for peace of mind or a wealthy future may find the prospects of this much reduced.”
The site’s representative also pointed out that interest rates on many savings products are high, provided that a low number of withdrawals are made – but that after a set number of withdrawals such rates fall dramatically, meaning that funding spending from elsewhere could be a wise decision in the long run. Mr Mountford recommended that anyone unable to resist the temptation of dipping into set-asides should consider putting money in a bond, which ties up cash for a pre-defined length of time. Meanwhile, the treats which consumers deserve to indulge in occasionally could be funded using fast loans.
Putting funds into a high-interest savings product and funding day-to-day spending using quick loans might be wise in the current climate, following recent trends in consumer opinion. In August, Spicerhaart Financial Services released data revealing that most consumers believe interest rates have reached their peak – and monthly decisions instigated by the Bank of England have so far borne out the assumption. Should the base rate start to fall then interest rates on new savings products might follow suit, meaning that making the most of today’s competitive offerings might be advisable.