Did your financial habits change because of 2016?

Did your financial habits change because of 2016?2016. The year a year became a real life, living, breathing entity.

If posts on Twitter were any reflection of attitudes towards 2016, those twelve calendar months appear to have gained sentience and conspired against the best interests all of humanity.

Nonsense, of course, but the key political and economic events of the year do appear to have changed some of our financial habits.

New research from global investment company Standard Life found that the significant events of 2016 influenced the way over half of UK adults managed their finances.

Their research suggests 16% put off making some important financial decisions last year as they are now more cautious.

An additional 11% of UK adults said all the change and uncertainty made them worried about their finances and unsure what to do.

Increased caution in light of unexpected events – including Brexit and the election of Donald Trump as US President – is only natural.

However, the events of 2016 also drove some people to take action, with almost one in ten (9%) responding by becoming more proactive and taking more control of their finances.

In addition, one in ten (9%) responded to the uncertainty by focusing on being more prudent and cutting costs where possible.

12% said saving more became their priority, and they created a bigger buffer against any potential bad times ahead.

This is a really positive reaction to uncertainty, using unexpected events as a wake-up call that the unexpected does happen and we need to be prepared.

Trump. Brexit. Bowie. Did your financial habits change because of 2016? Click to Tweet

The research also revealed that the most popular financial goal for 2017 is to “save more than in 2016”, with saving up for big ticket items like a holiday popular too.

Almost one in five (18%) UK adults are planning to tighten their belts and cut costs in 2017 and for some (16%) paying off debts is a priority.

With interest rates already starting to rise in the US, and some uncertainty around the UK economic outlook over the coming years during our Brexit negotiations with Brussels, debt repayment is a sensible goal.

When asked if all the uncertainty and change experienced in 2016 had altered how likely they were to invest in stocks and shares, 6% of UK adults said they were more likely, 7% said they were less likely and 20% said it hadn’t changed anything for them.

Over 55% said they don’t invest or plan to invest in stocks and shares and a further 11% said they hadn’t given it much thought.

The research also found that almost a third (30%) of UK adults still have no idea how much money is in their pension, and the majority are out of touch with how stock markets performed in 2016.

Just one in five UK adults (21%) recognised that stock markets mainly climbed over the course of the year and almost a quarter of adults (24%) wrongly believe that the markets mainly fell.

Knowing and understanding every aspect of your personal financial plans is essential, and relying on the media for your knowledge of investment markets might be a weakness as they often report short-term market movements, not the more important long-term trends.

Did your financial habits change because of 2016? What positive steps will you take to improve your financial position in 2017?

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About Martin Bamford

Martin Bamford is a Chartered Financial Planner, Certified Financial Planner (CFP) professional and published personal finance author. He works with elderly clients to provide advice on funding residential care fees, hosts the Informed Choice Podcast and is a keen ultra runner.
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