We now have healthier and more mature attitudes to personal finances. We won’t get caught out in the same way, ever again. We have learned from our experience and are a little wiser as a result. No bad thing.
We can see the affects of the attitude shift most particularly in three consumer behaviours; money management, household management, and spending.
We have changed how we manage our money, and in doing so changed our relationship with money. Our attitude to credit and borrowing has changed. We are borrowing less and paying off credit card debt, a sign that we are beginning to live within our means. We are using our debit cards less and taking more out at ATM machines in a shrewd attempt to avoid bank charges and also to better manage within a certain budget. We are saving a bit more often, although putting less away. In effect, we are reinstating the rainy day fund.
Spending less, saving more and avoiding charges are certainly linked to post-recessionary. What is a more permanent change is our attitude to money. We get that money can’t buy happiness, and we get that living beyond our means has a way of catching up with us. These realizations will have a more permanent effect on how we manage, invest, spend and appropriate money.
We have also changed how we manage our households, taking a much more hands-on approach to actively overseeing its smooth running. We are auditing the utility bills, KPMG-style, and changing suppliers more frequently. 72% of us are active switchers. This is pragmatic. We are more creative about fixing things, making do without things, and being more resourceful with what we have, these days. Disposable spending is less visible.
We are reluctant to spend, and are more careful and considered about it, when we do spend. The more transient affects, indicative of post-recession such as declined spending, mask an underlying trend in consumption decision-making.
We have become trade-off consumers. How we spend and how we buy is based on a series of mental trade-offs. A complex debit and credit system unique to each of us. I will pay for my gym, but not health insurance. I will holiday in Ireland, but book something abroad for next year. I will go out for drinks, but have dinner at home. I will upgrade my phone, but get another year out of my coat. I will buy own brand milk, but branded butter.
Today’s reluctant consumer will begin to spend again, but never in the same thoughtless and excessive way. The idea of value for money is here to stay. People will buy and buy into brands, organisations and products that add real value to their lives, that provide solutions, make life easier, enhance experiences and give them what they want, when they want it, and how they want it.
Control Freak is not just about how we manage things. It’s also about how we tailor and personalise things to suit our needs. We hack stuff to make it work just the way we want it to.. We download apps we want, prioiritise features we use most often. We adapt the media we consume, the books we read, the music we like, the TV we want to watch wherever, whenever. We want things the way we want them.
72% of Irish people are active switchers (Bord Bia 2013)
73% claim they are better at managing their money since the recession
1 in 4 are using debit cards less frequently and instead withdrawing more cash from ATMS (National Consumer Agency, 2014)
Almost 1 in 2 are using surplus income to pay off debt (Euromonitor 2014)