How are we doing? A look at families' finances in the UK
Published 23 January 2013 by Matthew Plant
The Aviva Family Finances Report provides some real insight into the changing fortunes of families all over the UK. There's good news as well as bad.
Once upon a time, the typical family in the UK had two parents in it - and a number of offspring.
These days, just three decades on, things have changed. Aviva's Family Finances Report defines six major groups, from single parents to childless couples in a committed relationship.
Humans aren't statistics, so there's a huge amount of variety in each of those groups. Even so, they still give us a good starting-point when we're looking at how people manage their finances - and how they're affected by the kind of household they live in.
One thing we've all been affected by, of course, is the state of the UK's economy. Prices are up, wage growth is slow or non-existent for many, companies are hesitant about taking on new people...
An upside to tough times?
On a positive note, tough times can often encourage people to manage their finances more carefully.
- Back in November 2011, 39% of families weren't putting any savings aside on a monthly basis. It's good to see that falling to 34% as 2013 gets underway.
- This month, the average family managed to put £80 aside - the highest monthly figure we've seen since the Family Finances Report began two years ago.
- Parents who are divorced/separated/widowed are managing to save the least: £54 per month.
The kind of household you're living in isn't the only factor, of course. Location counts - and some parts of the UK are simply doing a lot better than others.
- Families in London are still enjoying the highest monthly incomes - £2,231, on average - although it's a serious drop on the £2,845 they received this time last year.
- The North East is where you'll find families living on the lowest incomes - just £1,646.
But again, tough times seem to encourage caution - a major part of ensuring a happier future. That could help explain why:
- Just 28% of Londoners are paying into a pension plan and just 26% have life insurance.
- Compare that with the North West, where 36% have a pension plan and 35% have life insurance.
All over the UK
It's no surprise to hear that prices are rising rapidly - or that the official inflation figures don't tell the full story.
Since November 2011, according to Aviva:
- Monthly travel costs have gone up by £28 (from £86 to £114)
- Monthly debt repayments have gone up by £20 (from £224 to £244)
- Overall outgoings have risen a massive 22%, leaping from £1,489 in November 2011 to £1,819 today.
Save today - and protect tomorrow
So all in all, it's a mixture of good news and bad. As individuals, there's not much we can do to get the economy back on its feet.
What we can do, though, is make the most of whatever money we do have. So budgeting's essential: when you know that your important bills are taken care of, you can see how much you really have available to spend on other things that month.
Ideally, you'd set some of that aside as savings.
It's not just about saving up for something like a car or a holiday. It might not sound exciting, but saving for a rainy day can make a massive difference to your financial security.
Save today and you'll be in a much better position to cope with anything tomorrow throws at you, whether it's a drop in income, an unexpected bill - or just higher and higher food bills, petrol prices, gas & electric bills...