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Northern Ireland saves least in the UK

UK Savings Week, which runs from September 18-22, comes at a time when local household budgets have never been more stretched. Families and individuals are making every penny count, as the impact of the increased cost of living continues to take its toll. Putting money away for a rainy day is getting harder for many of us, as rising bills have a knock-on effect on our ability to save. But the good news is that you don’t need to save a fortune to make a difference.

UK Savings Week was first launched by the Building Societies Association (BSA) in 2022 and is supported by Progressive Building Society. Its dual goal is to foster a savings culture across the region and to help people across Northern Ireland with financial stability and wellbeing, providing an opportunity to focus on making your money work for you. This means examining the small savings consumers can make every day, week, or month even during this challenging time.

Northern Ireland saves least in UK

Research carried out by the BSA to coincide with Savings Week unearthed key regional comparisons across the UK. It found that, in May this year, people in Northern Ireland saved less than any of their UK counterparts, with an average of £151 saved locally compared to £200 nationally.

The statistics also show that a quarter of people here haven’t reviewed their savings for at least a year, while 39% are confident they could save £50 more a month. Meanwhile, 15% of those surveyed said they have no savings, while 35% save whatever they can each month. Some of the figures make for stark reading but it is never too late to examine your finances. During times of uncertainty, a savings pot, no matter how small, can bring peace of mind. And that’s why Progressive is focusing on the little things, such as the small savings that can be made every day, from not buying that extra takeaway coffee to managing monthly subscriptions.

Declan Moore, Operations Director at Progressive, said that a little can go a long way this Savings Week.

“We understand the financial pressures facing Northern Ireland households at present,” he said.

“Savings Week provides us with time to take stock. By first focusing on our small expenditure each day, we can start to understand our incomings and outgoings with more clarity.

“Sometimes, money can be saved easily and that can be set aside for a rainy day, an unexpected household bill, a family trip, a first-time mortgage or any other important milestone that’s coming up.”

Declan said the secret of success is to save what you can when you can.

“It doesn’t matter when you start saving as long as you take that first step on the path towards financial stability,” he said.

“We see UK Savings Week as a chance to develop positive savings habits and support anyone who’s trying to put money aside.

“Even if you’re not in a position to do that, we would love to help you make small changes and get a firmer grasp on your finances.”

By shining a spotlight on the issue of effective financial management, Declan said he hoped it will give would-be savers a boost.

“We want to teach people how to save money and how to manage their finances so that they’re in a more comfortable position,” he added.

Making a difference

 Progressive aims to highlight the benefits of saving via #takethesavingschallenge, where individuals are asked to think about their finances, set money goals and stay in control. The focus this year is to engage with those who can save but, for whatever reason, don’t. By forming new savings habits, individuals could save more than they do at present.

Here are some tips to help you forge a saving habit in these challenging times:

Check your savings

You can make the most of the money you have put away by taking time to look at your finances and examine your income and expenditure. Knowing how much you have to live off each week/month will help you understand how much extra you may be able to save.

Set achievable targets

Strive for a goal that you consider to be an impressive achievement but won’t be too much of a stretch for you.

Stay in control

Feeling like you’re mastering your finances will help you push ahead with building your savings.

Progressive’s savings hacks:

The no spend challenge: Don’t buy anything you don’t NEED (such as takeaways or clothes). Instead, only pay for necessities (bills, food etc.) This will help you prepare for any expensive weeks or months in the future.

Step it up: Begin by saving £10 in the first month, £20 in the second and so on, until you save £120 in month 12. At the end of the year you’ll have £780, plus any interest you have earned.

Change ‘skimming’: Many banking apps can help you with your payments by rounding up transactions. For example, if you spend £2.75, £3 is debited from your account with 25p being added to your savings account.

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