16 million wouldn't last a month if they lost their job

The reasons we’re not saving are the same as the reasons it will be so hard to cope without savings

Simon Goldborough

"If I had no job then our savings wouldn't last long. If neither my wife or I had a job then we'd be screwed." Simon Goldsborough, a 39-year-old company director working in London, has a decent income, a nice lifestyle, and very little hope of lasting more than a month or so if things went wrong - and he's far from alone.

In an ideal world we'd all have some savings to fall back on. If we were ill and unable to work - or we lost our jobs - we would have enough put aside to cover a few months' worth of outgoings until we were back on our feet. However, 16 million of us couldn't even cover one month's worth of outgoings.

Cost of living

It's easy to see why, because life is just so expensive. Simon has two children - the oldest is four and the youngest eight-months-old. He explains: "The extremely high cost of childcare has put a financial burden on us, as whilst my eldest has just started school, we have chosen to hire a full time nanny to take care of my youngest as my wife and I both work."

"The daily necessities of being a family, baby food and nappies, accumulate, and are a substantial addition to our outgoings."

The family also has a large mortgage. He explains: "Being an expanding family, we have made the decision to upsize in recent years. This means we have had to move further out of central London to accommodate the size of property we want. However, moving further outside of London has increased both our daily travel costs. My wife now drives to work while I commute into central London."

He's not complaining. He explains: "I appreciate these are very much 'first world problems' and ultimately there are a lot more important things in life. I have a good job, great family and own my home (with the bank's help of course), so life really isn't too bad."

However, this level of outgoings causes two potential problems. The first is that while life is so expensive, there's little cash left to put aside to fall back on if anything goes wrong.

The second is that if either or both parents lost their income, there would be a major income shortfall to cover each month.

Not alone

Simon is far from alone. Research from Barclays shows that 40% of UK savers couldn't cover one month's worth of essential outgoings with their available savings. Worringly, when asked if they could cover one moth's costs, 96% of people said they'd have enough money. It was only when they did the maths that 40% discovered that they didn't.

Clare Francis, Savings and Consumer Expert at Barclays said: "It is really worth individuals being fully aware of their spending habits and outgoings so they can accurately work out how long their savings would last for."

On the plus side, 40 million people have savings of some sort, and two thirds of people said they wouldn't feel comfortable without the safety net. It seems, therefore, we have the beginnings of a savings culture. The challenge now is to get people to keep building their savings, so they have enough to cover these emergencies.

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