How do you compare financially?

Find out how other people manage their money

Ever wondered how your finances compares to other people’s? Perhaps you hope you’re not the only person to sometimes use your overdraft or credit card to pay bills, feel you don’t have as much money stashed away in savings as other people seem to, or wonder if anyone else actually has a long-term financial plan?

The latest Financial Capability Survey from our partner the Money & Pensions Service (MAPS) reveals some intriguing facts which we look at here (did you know, for example, that 22 percent of UK adults have under £100 to draw from on a rainy day?). See how you measure up and, if you’d like to improve a particular part of your current financial situation, check out our recommended links to other relevant content which could help you to feel more in control of your finances.

How do you manage your money day-to-day?

21 percent of UK adults rarely or never save.

If this sounds like you, it’s time to kick-start your finances into shape. Our article How to be good with money tells you how to start doing this, in six easy steps – starting with budgeting and paying off debt and ending with starting to save and regularly checking your progress.

Don’t let age be a barrier to getting on top of your finances – our article Master your money at every age gives suggestions on how to take control whether you’re in your 20s, 70s or any age in between, according to your changing needs and priorities.

22 percent have less than £100 in savings and investments.

This means 11.5 million UK adults would be unable to pay an unexpected repair bill, for example, without borrowing money or going into debt. If you’re among them, take positive action. Our article 6 simple steps to better finances suggests an easy-to-follow approach to help you to begin to feel in control. 

If you’re prone to spending too much when you’re feeling bored, stressed or even envious of other people’s new purchases, then our article Are you an emotional spender? may help you to identify feelings that prompt you to spend, and so help you get on top of them. And if identifying patterns in your spending behaviour intrigues you, check out our light-hearted quiz, How do you manage your money – or does it manage you?

17 percent often use a credit card, overdraft or borrow money to buy food to pay bills, and the same percentage are over-indebted (although only around a third receive help).

If you’re among these 9 million adults struggling with debt, the first thing you need to do is seek help – something that currently only 1 in 3 are doing. Our article Where can I get help with debt? gives top tips on how to start to get it under control, plus details of charities who offer help and support to people in debt. And you may find What is a credit score and how can I improve it? a useful read too.

Food can be one of the biggest household expenses – for ideas on how to reduce the amount you spend on it, check out our article How to eat well on a budget, written by our partners at the Love Food, Hate Waste campaign. We’ve got other ideas on how to save money in our article Top 9 money-saving websites too.


Are you confident with numbers?

27 percent of adults are actually over-confident in their ability to use numbers in everyday life.

Many others, meanwhile, have the opposite problem – with a lack of confidence in their ability hampering their ability to confidently make sound financial decisions.

If the latter sounds like you, you’re not alone. Our partner, the charity National Numeracy, has written 5 quick ways to boost your everyday maths skills for us to help people become more confident in their abilities. And if you think you’re already good at maths, why not take on our challenge? Our article Are you as good at maths as you think you are? links to a quiz which invites you to put your knowledge to the test. It’s adaptive, meaning that the more questions you answer correctly, the harder they get!


Do you feel in control of your finances?

63 percent say they don’t feel they can determine what happens next financially.

None of us has a crystal ball, so it’s impossible for anyone to predict precisely what will happen in the future. But by taking some practical actions – such as spending sensibly, getting value for money on what you buy and saving and investing for the future (short-, medium- and long-term), it’s possible to feel more confident about your financial future. Our Saving for the future content has a range of articles for you to browse on this broad topic.


Do you plan ahead?

55 percent of working-age adults don’t feel they understand enough about pensions to make decisions about saving for their retirement.

Our article Your pension options explained gives the lowdown on the five main options open to you when you retire.

53 percent of adults have a plan for financial goals for the next five years.

With previous research showing that people who set a goal save faster and are likely to save £550 a year more than those who don’t, it’s easy to see why setting financial goals is important. Read our article How much should I save each month? for more on the topic, and Top 5 budgeting apps for tools to easily enable you to set a goal and monitor your progress towards it.

49 percent could last three months or more without borrowing if they lost their main source of income.

If you’re among the 51 percent who couldn’t (and, in fact, even if you’re not), our article 5 habits of successful savers gives you some inspiration on how to save more.

43 percent of adults aged 65+ are not sure how they would manage financially if they needed to go into long-term residential care.

Our article If you need care or to go into a home, who pays? explains the different options available. And if you want to be prepared even further into the future, see Avoid a mess when the time comes.


Do your children understand money?

52 percent of 7-17 year olds say they receive a meaningful financial education.

You may not be able to single-handedly influence the National Curriculum, but matters at home are within your grasp. Our article How to teach your kids about money gives various tips, including typical pocket money allowances by age, while 4 ways to teach your kids how to save focuses on helping them learn how to manage their cash.


Do you know where to get support?

Finally... 58 percent of adults know of organisations or websites offering free or affordable financial information, help or support. 

As you’re reading this, clearly you’re among them! We have over 100 articles on Virgin Money Living, designed to give smart suggestions and inspirational ideas to help you plan the big decisions in life. We publish new articles all the time, so be sure to check out our Virgin Money Living homepage to see what’s new.

If you’re interested in seeing how you compare to other families, you may also be interested in our light-hearted article, Is yours an average British family?


Source: Money & Pensions Service, Transforming customer wellbeing – What can retail banking do to build financial capability? Survey, June 2019.

Before making financial decisions always do research, or talk to a financial adviser. Views are those of our mentors and customers and do not constitute financial advice.