Business

Behaviour is changing as people struggle with rising cost of living

For most of us, the priority is to take care of our family

THIS week we have some amazing new numbers that show how people's behaviour is changing, as they struggle with the rising cost of living.

The figures underline that it's more crucial than ever for all of us to ask a financial adviser for help in planning to set some money aside for the future, or an unexpected emergency.

Well we all have different priorities in what we buy. For most of us, the priority is to take care of our family. We buy houses to put a roof over our children's heads, and when we've been through that drama, there is more to come, because in this decade, the cost of almost every item we buy – electricity, fuel, food, clothing – have gone through that roof I just mentioned.

Here is the real proof, just published in the survey ‘Public Opinions and Social Trends' conducted at the start of May by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Two in five of us have had to cut back on our food buying, while a similar number are spending more to buy the same amount as before.

Two in five (41 per cent) say they are having trouble affording their energy bills, and as a result of all of this, a third of people are now living with high levels of anxiety. Anxiety levels are even higher (one in four) for the 16-29 age group.

It's almost become a cliché by now: we face the choice of ‘heat or eat'.

For larger purchases, such as a new suite of furniture, a fridge or freezer, or technology, an Opinium survey shows one in ten people have signed up for ‘Buy Now, Pay Later' deals, and a quarter of us would consider going down that road in future. These deals are handy, but of course you are building debts that will kick in later, when times may be even harder.

Just as an international aside, I saw something on the news last night that proves there is always someone even worse off than you. Cash-strapped Sri Lanka has literally run out of petrol.

This is why cautious preparation is needed, and there is only one way to prepare. There are many words for putting money aside for the future, but they all come down to the same thing.

Saving or investing. And there are many possibilities.

One great way of saving is to ask your financial adviser about opening an Isa account.

The main types of Isa are the Cash Isa, the Stocks and Shares Isa, and the Lifetime Isa, and, for saving for your children, the Junior Cash Isa. You can currently transfer £20,000 into Isa's each year.

Let's say you have a Cash ISA, you also have a Lifetime ISA, and you also have a Stocks and Shares ISA. You put £1,000 in your Cash ISA and £3,000 in your Lifetime ISA. That means there's £16,000 left of your £20,000 ISA allowance this tax year.

These figures only scratch the surface of the difficult financial situation we all face, but we're all in this together, and we all have one thing in common.

Good independent financial advice can be the answer, if done in an organised and gradual way.

While we struggle with our concerns to keep life and limb together, let's not forget: “Life's better with a plan.”

:: Michael Kennedy is an independent financial adviser and pensions specialist and can be contacted on 028 71886005. Further information on Facebook at Kennedy Independent Financial Advice or at www.mkennedyfinancial.com

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