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How has your spending changed in the last 10 years?

UK money

We’re currently undertaking a major piece of analysis to better understand how consumer spending has changed over the last 10 years. What do you spend your money on now that you didn’t a decade ago?

To get a better understanding of how spending has changed, the Which? Consumer Insight team is using extremely detailed data from the Office for National Statistics. This will allow us to analyse how different types of consumers and different places are faring.

Some of the results will come as no surprise. For instance, in the last ten years, spending on essentials (and in particular energy) has risen dramatically. However, other results aren’t so obvious. And, as we have real data on actual consumers’ spending on over 1,900 different types of goods and services, we can go into a fascinating level of detail.

We don’t want to give the game away yet, as we’ll be publishing our results later this year, but to bring our analysis to life we need your help.

Your chance to help

We want to hear from you about your experiences over the last 10 years. In particular, we want to know about:

• How and why your spending has changed.
• The impacts that these changes have had and how you have looked to adjust.
• How things might change in the future.

For me, the results look familiar. The biggest changes to my spending have come from a leap into the property market and a renewed level of consumer engagement since joining Which? last year (I recently saved £150 on my home insurance by shopping around!). I can also recognise the rising cost of essentials, offsetting falls in recreational spending.

Others will undoubtedly have different views and we want to hear from a broad range of people. We’ll be using some of your responses in our upcoming report and we may even video a small number of you to use as clips alongside our report. So now it’s over to you.

Izzy says:
19 August 2014

More careful rather than carefree with all sorts of spending. I buy for a specific purpose. More thoughtful spending.
Compared with ten years ago my finances are more settled.
Living in or near a city centre i spent far more on anything from food to hairdressers, clothes or a cushion. Living in the countryside i find I do shop differently. I shop in a more considered way. I never have caught the on line shopping bug. I save more. I expect to spend more on my home in future and more on holidays. As parents age i expect to shop for age related care.

10 years does not only reflect changes in prices, but also changes in circumstances. You buy a house, family starts, family leaves, mortgage paid, you retire – all momentous events that individually can be spanned by a decade. I would think, unless I have misunderstood the research, that it would be more relevant to compare what people spent their money on 10 years ago and what people of a similar age spend it on now.
What has changed for me in that time has been the ability, through the internet, of being able to shop around far more easily and get better prices – energy, domestic appliances, books, insurances, whatever. But my circumstances have changed totally in the last 10 years – so comparison is not very helpful (mortgage paid off, no commuting, for example)..

Hmmm…over the last 10 years.

Kids are now independent, so one major financial drain gone.
Retired, so not putting money into a pension.
No spend on commuting.
No requirement for ‘work wear’.
Downsized, so not spending nearly as much on infrastructure.

On a day to day basis I still eat and drink, so no real change there.
I have never bought new (or even nearly new) cars.
I buy second hand high specification vehicles after the major depreciation has happened, so no change there.

Holidays are longer – and more expensive – because we have the time to travel now we are not working.
Also the kids are living abroad so trips to visit them cost a lot more.

All in all, the major change has been the removal of work related expenses and the cost of nurturing offspring.

I am savvier. I’m nearly 50 now and hopefully more emotionally mature so I think more carefully about whether I really need something or whether I am being seduced by the shiny newness of some worthless item. I am more aware of sales techniques and I hope able to see through them. I will compare products more carefully. I have an eye on the longer term now , including how I will live in retirement , so I carefully save and invest much more than before.

I still have a weakness for gadgets and clothes but you still have to enjoy life and in my opinion your money, otherwise what’s the point ?. I’d hate to be total tight a**e. It’s about getting the tight balance.

Some of this change is perhaps age and maturity. Some of it is also definitely the effect of my experience of getting into debt in the bad years – I don’t ever want that hanging over me again so I made a conscious decision to change. Peace of mind is so important.

I earn more than 10 years ago, spend less than 10 years ago but nett the same. My personal value for money has not increased even though I work harder for less.

Personally, I’m in my 80s so haven’t the hassles of work, commuting etc, and am also mortgage-free so that’s one big worry gone. On the other hand, I now need to put as much as I possibly can towards the needs of grandchildren saving for house deposits!
Food is cheaper than it was – of course, whether that’ll continue post-Brexit is another question – which leaves me a bit over for pursuing my hobby of (incompetently…) messing about with computers. They’ve all got MUCH cheaper – though, alas, more technically challenging! Telephoning’s got cheaper, too, but postage costs are shocking.
All in all, for my age group I think it’s swings and roundabouts mostly so long as one has a pension, but I feel dreadfully concerned for anybody who hasn’t, and also of course, for the young people who can’t afford to buy houses or become parents. That is a terrible problem, about which I lie awake worrying. Best of luck with it all, Theresa!

Hello @meglittle thanks for your comment, it’s good to here that you aren’t too troubled by these pressures but these are certainly testing times for a lot of people