/ Money

Are Brits too tight with their cash?

Teabags hung out to dry

A new survey says Brits are meaner with their money than ever, tipping less in restaurants and lying to street collectors. But are we really Scrooges or are we just being prudent in tough times?

Welcome to Britain – a mean and unpleasant land, according to a new survey from the Reader’s Digest. The poll reveals that tough times are leading Britons to be tighter with their cash.

Six out of ten respondents in the poll of 1,400 people think that Britons are meaner than ever, with a third scoring their levels of generosity as five or less out of ten.

You tightwad!

Some of the money-saving examples are enough to make Ebenezeer Scrooge wince. A shocking 60% saying they have lied to street collectors about having no change.

One person admitted to buying four different brands of toilet paper and counting how many sheets each one had in order to work out which was most economical. Another said that her in-laws charged her to stay the night with them.

The ‘tightest’ group in the survey was the under-30s. Fewer than four in ten of this group donate to charity once a month and more than one in ten admit to never leaving a tip in restaurants.

Are we really mean with money?

But, one person’s frugal is another person’s mean. On the Which? website, we have hundreds of tips on how to save money, but none of them stretch to taking the batteries out of your alarm clock each morning and replacing them at night to make them last longer (another example from the survey).

Have the credit crunch, the recession and austerity measures really bitten so deeply that money-saving is no longer good enough? Are we now a nation of penny-pinchers who reuse tea bags and turn biro tubes into drinking straws for our children? Or is this survey wide of the mark?

Have your say below – any money-saving tips gratefully received – the best ones will be posted in an article on Which.co.uk.


The credit crunch has made no difference to my donations to Charity – I do make monthly payments to a number – but they are all animal charities – I never make donations to children’s charity as I believe that is the Government’s responsibility. The only human charity I donate to monthly is Cancer Research.

I also give to the Poppy Appeal annually and refuse all others – but I don’t lie – I say I do not donate.

The only economy I have is I no longer use ceiling lamp shades as the amount of light lost is tremendous and one lamp without lampshade is equivalent to two with lampshades. So I save electricity and help the environment..

Sparky says:
26 January 2011

You might think children’s charities are the Government’s responsibility but the fact is they are not subsidised by the Government. There are so many cancer charities which could all be amalgamated to make them efficient. Cancer Research is one of the richest charities so I will not donate to them, preferring to give my money to small and sometimes local charities like my local children’s hospice which needs £3.5M a year to keep going. There are other ways of giving besides money, why not give time?

I do tip but never more that 10%. I’ve never been tipped for doing my job and I haven’t had huge bonuses either.

Sorry – I don’t think children are governments responsibility – I demand they are – They are certainly not mine. If not they are the responsibility of their parents – exactly as mine were. Certainly not my responsibility.

Cancer Research I believe is an effective charity because it does so much research – far more than smaller charities.

I give to animal charities – except the RSPCA – due it’s individual negative attitude towards racing greyhounds both past and present – so different from their attitude toward race horses. Animals do not have a voice – children get vast coverage on TV – animals do not. So animal only charities for me.

I actually work at least 40 hours a week finding homes for.retired racing greyhounds – working at the kennels – running websites – doing home inspections – and 18 hours running computer classes for OAPs (often repair their computers too)

Now what do you do???

Oops Forgot one – All plates , dishes and cooking utensils are licked clean by my dogs before being washed by me – It saves throwing the “excess” away in waste tips – reduces the amount of food my dogs need to keep fit – and the amount of washing up liquid and effort to wash up is reduced (the items are spotless before washing)

In case you are interested – I have not been ill or had a even a cold for over twenty five years!! :).

This habit is disgusting have you never heard of germs!

titti says:
4 February 2011

God Bless you dear,
your example shows that health is a matter of luck!
I would like to add that you probably save more money to make this public, so many of us won’t appreciate an invitation at your dinner table.


I have a degree in Science and taught Biology – so I may have a better idea of germs than you. As I said I have never been ill in 25 years – rather proving that there are no germs left after washing.

Incidentally I used to do a class experiment on “washing up” germs (a classic one) by culturing the drying up cloth and dried plates – that shows conclusively that using a drying up cloth is detrimental to your health by transferring germs from cloth to ‘clean’ plate..

On a similar note – I was astounded at the vast increase in numbers of asthma sufferers when I started teaching – I postulated it was because of the sterile conditions children now live in (as the 100s of boy scouts I knew were far less prone to asthma)- Some twenty years later Government research confirmed my postulation – children are never exposed to natural occurring germs so never develop anti-bodies – so they are more unhealthy now.

Frankly my dear I wouldn’t invite you – plus 25 years of non illness is not luck but proof that I am healthy.

Sophie Gilbert says:
26 January 2011

About street collectors, I already have 3 carefully budgeted monthly standing orders set up to give money to 3 carefully chosen charities and I think that’s enough, so if street collectors think I’m mean they don’t know what they’re talking about.

Tipping I’m in two minds about (why should some people get tips and not others?), but I always give 10%, or less if the service is rubbish. I’m not made of money.

Shouldn’t changing biro-tubes into straws for children be called re-using, one of the three Rs of good environmentalism?

But I won’t charge my relatives and friends if they stay with me! During the bad weather in December I was glad to be of use as a friend when a friend couldn’t get home because her train was cancelled. She ended up staying 3 nights and helped with the groceries. A couple of weeks ago she also gave me a pot of hyacinths as a wee thank you. Fair exchange.

Surveys rarely look at the whole picture, deliberately or otherwise.

pickle says:
26 January 2011

I think it’s more about being careful with my money. Throwing stuff away is wasteful – only cook what you can eat – only buy what is necessary. Spend if it saves in the end. Most of my lamps are fitted with economy bulbs – LEDs and coiled tubes.
Yes I still contribute to my favourite charities. My car is small and economic – annual tax £35 and almost 60mpg. Direct debit for fuel saves a bit too.
Tipping – well, only for good service.
Use e-mails rather than snail mail.
Admittedly I occasionally lash out on something I fancy!

Linda says:
26 January 2011

I chose to have my water metered and it has worked out much cheaper than the standard tariff, but there is only me in the household. I think the biggest saving I make is when I am waiting for the hot water to reach the tap I collect the cold water in a jug. I use this to rinse out the sink after I have washed the dishes instead of turning on a tap again.

My father always taught me that you don’t get rich by giving money away, you’ll never be a millionaire by working for someone else, charity begins at home, if you only spend 19/6d for every £1.00 you earn, you’ll never be in debt and not to buy anything you can’t afford.
He worked 6 daya a week, got 2 weeks’ holiday a year and although money was tight, he never complained and we never owed anybody anything.
I think I’m developing his mentality in my old age!

InspiredNinja14 says:
27 January 2011

I want a lot more holiday than your dad got!

laurernce miller says:
27 January 2011

As do many others, I make regular donations to certain charities. However, there are so many around, that it is self-evident that one cannot donate to everyone that holds out a collecting tin. Mr response to these is ‘I’m sorry – no!’ Remember also, the fact that the UK Goverment hands out large sums of our money overseas, via the various UN organisations and others!

Tipping is an iniquitous and out of date custom originally designed, (in my opinion), to help the well to do put the working class in their place and avoid having to pay a proper wage. It should be banished, together with other out of date practices, especially now there is a minimum wage. Whilst many, if not most, charities do stirling work there are just too many, all chasing the same small pot of money and, unfortunately, often building resistance and resentment among the public.
We all have a right and a responsibility to spend, give or save our money however we see fit.

titti says:
4 February 2011

The best way to save money is if you buy the best quality of whatever you buy,
as an old jewish saying,
‘I am too poor, I can olny afford the best!”

Having just had lunch where the waiter mysteriously disappeared after giving us the pudding menu, the tip was, well, pretty non-existent! They weren’t even full. I’ve had better service in busier places. I’ll only leave a tip if the service deserves it.