Children don’t always take older generations’ advice on board, but new research suggests more than a third (37%) of adults wish they had listened more to their parents or grandparents about saving money for the future.
Among those who regret not heeding their elders’ views on saving, two-fifths (39%) don’t have as much money saved up as they thought they would.
A quarter (25%) say they got into debt by spending too much money when they were young, while a similar proportion (24%) didn’t travel or go on holiday as much as they had imagined they would.
More than 2,100 people across the UK in September 2023 were quizzed for the survey, on behalf of the Pension Attention campaign.
The pensions industry-funded campaign is co-ordinated by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) and the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA), with the aim of raising awareness of the importance of people understanding their finances for their future.
People in Northern Ireland (50%) and Scotland (43%) particularly regret not taking advice on saving from older generations, the survey suggests. This was closely followed by people in the North East of England (41%) and South East (40%).
The research also suggests people have other financial regrets, with just over a fifth (22%) wishing they had taken the advice from parents or grandparents to not spend all their pay at once, and one in six (16%) wishing they had taken advice to get on the property ladder as soon as they could.
Of course, the realities of managing finances, particularly when times are tough, are often very different to people’s best intentions. And living costs and property prices are proportionately higher for young people now than they’ve been for previous generations.
Alison Nicolson, head of client relationships, workplace savings, Scottish Widows, says that when she left university: “I did listen to my parents on not overstretching myself, but it was years before I got into a position where I was saving enough to aim for any kind of comfortable retirement.”
Her tips for others include creating a budget, as well as planning for the big expenses and starting pension saving early, if possible.
Clare Moffat, a pensions and legal expert at Royal London, adds: “For many people, the cost-of-living crisis has meant they’ve faced a balancing act as they try and make the money they have coming in stretch as far as possible.
“Prioritising savings won’t be appropriate for many people in these difficult times. However, if a salary increase allows for it, then it’s a good time to think about starting to save again – to rebuild the emergency fund, or for the house deposit as well as pension savings.
“For longer-term savings then a stocks and shares ISA or a Lifetime ISA might be a good investment, especially if you want to use the money for a house deposit,” she adds.
“If you do have savings or you are getting back into the savings habit, I’d encourage you to check how much interest your savings are earning. Look at comparison sites and ‘best buy’ tables for savings products to see if there are better rates available, and then take the action to switch to the best paying accounts so your money is working hard for you.”
Moffat continues: “It’s never too late to start to save for the future. Don’t be put off if you can only save a small amount. Over time, the wonders of compounding will add to that pot of money. It’s always worth looking at your monthly budget too. Are there any regular payments for things that you actually don’t need? Can that money be used for your future?
“Making small changes that you can stick to is often much better than trying to make larger changes which you give up.”
Phil Brown, director of policy at People’s Partnership, provider of the People’s Pension, says: “It’s only natural that some people look back on their financial choices and wish that they had acted differently.
“It’s important not to think that it’s too late and that there is no hope for your finances. The great thing about automatic enrolment pensions are that – unless you’ve made a conscious decision to opt out – you are always saving and, if you can afford it, you can increase your contributions.
“This should only be considered if you’ve paid off any unsecured debt, then it would be worth speaking to your employer first as, in many cases, they might match your increased contributions.”