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Are you contented and carefree or a stoic struggler?

Today sees the launch of the first Which? Quarterly Consumer Report, shedding light on how us Brits are coping in this economic climate. Are you young and carefree or a stoic struggler?

One of the key findings of the report released today is that just 53% of people said they were ‘satisfied with life’. But is it all doom and gloom?

I’m part of the team who have worked on the research behind the report and I’ve found it fascinating to learn what drives people’s attitudes towards their finances and the state of the UK economy. We analysed levels of debt, spending and savings to allow us to gain an understanding of how people feel about their finances.

The research identified four key consumer groups and explores the impact the economic climate has had on each group. Over time, we’re going to track how these groups and people’s attitudes change, to allow us to see when things are improving and which groups may need a helping hand.

Contented Carefree

Oh to be young and carefree – our ‘Contented Carefree’ group are typically younger than average (40% are under 35). If your profile fits this bill, you are hopefully happy with life overall and are more optimistic than most about the economy.

You may feel more satisfied than other groups, but it’s based on expectations that things will get better soon. You’ll be optimistic – 53% expect their finances to get better in the coming year and 47% expect the economy to improve. But your trust in government will be tested if improvements don’t come as anticipated.

Mature Secure

Many of the over 55 category (two-thirds in fact) were seen as the ‘Mature Secure’. Overall, you’re pretty happy with your life and are most likely to be satisfied with your income, living standards, leisure time and home.

Just 3% of the Mature Secure find it difficult to live on their current income (compared with a national average of 35%) and can cope with their relatively low levels of debt. This group is the least likely to be cutting back on spending and least likely to worry about finances.

Feeling Low

We all feel low from time to time but sadly a portion of the population is ‘Feeling Low’ on a regular basis. Those in this group are most likely to be in full time work and could be on a lower than average income.

You may find you have a bleak outlook on most areas of life and you’re less likely than other groups to feel happy with your job, home and social life. The Feeling Lows are very vulnerable to changes in the cost of living. Many in this segment would be tipped over the edge if, for example, energy prices increased.

Stoic Strugglers

And last, but by no means least, we have ‘Stoic Strugglers’. This group are more likely to be 25-54 years old. You could be in work or maybe you look after the family home. If you’re in this group, you’re among the most economically vulnerable – as 78% of you find it difficult to live on your current income and 71% often or always run out of money at the end of each month. You’re probably reducing your spending across all household expenditure.

However, despite your potentially fragile finances, you’re likely to remain positive about your home, social life, health and family life.

Where do you fit in?

Of course, you may find that you sit across one or more of these groups and don’t fit into any of them perfectly. But in this tough financial climate, I’m curious to know, which group or groups do you most identify with?

John H.S. Craig says:
31 July 2012

Quite right, the problem with a democratic dictatorship. Please note we here are under the povery line.