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Daily spending in later life

Part of the Life Well Spent Report 2023

For the second year running, we asked more than 2,000 over 50s to share how their daily spending has changed in the last year, and what financial concerns they have.

The research for this study was conducted in May 2023, during the current cost of living crisis in the UK. Over the last 2 years, the cost of everyday essentials such as food, fuel and energy bills have risen much faster than average household incomes or pensions.

Half of over 50s are cutting back on takeaways and clothing to tackle rising costs

When asked how their spending has changed in the past year, 59% report an increase in spending on their weekly food shop, and 41% on fuel and transport.

The biggest cutbacks people over 50 are making to save money are in takeaways, with 53% reporting a decrease in spending, and meals out, with 52% reporting a decrease. These are closely followed by activities/days out at 47% and clothing at 46%.

The area where fewest are reducing their spending is on their pets. 63% of respondents report no change to their spending on pets in the last year. And only 17% have decreased it.

What are the biggest money worries for over 50s?

On the whole, the financial worries bothering over 50s the most are the rising cost of living, and running out of money during retirement. The rising cost of living is still one of the biggest worries for 73% (-2% since 2022) of people over 50, rising to 78% of 50-59 year olds.

Overall, respondents are just as concerned about financial worries as they were in 2022, reflecting the ongoing uncertainty of the cost of living crisis.

The number of people with no financial worries at all (12%) has risen slightly since 2022 (11%), but is still much lower than 2021, where 26% of retirees and 14% of non-retirees reported having no financial worries. Today, only 18% of retirees and 9% of non-retirees are free from money worries.

Women are more worried than men when it comes to money

A higher percentage of women than men report being worried about each concern, except for the value of their pension, where 22% (-7% since 2022) of women versus 27% (-3%) of men report being worried.

The most notable differences are worrying about the rising cost of living (78% of women versus 68% of men), fear of unexpected costs (49% versus 39%) and how children or grandchildren are managing financially (32% versus 21%).

Men are also 50% more likely to have no financial worries (15% – the same as in 2022) compared to women (10% – up 3% since 2022).

A clear difference can be seen in the worries of retirees compared with those still working. Retirees show lower levels of concern for issues affecting themselves directly, such as the cost of living, but higher concern for issues that could impact their families, such as how their children/grandchildren manage financially, or paying for long-term care.

Regional worries

Certain differences can be seen between the worries of different regions across the UK.

At 78% (+1% since 2022), the North East is the region most concerned about the rising cost of living, compared to the South West, which is the least worried at 65% (-11% since 2022). The South West is also the region most likely to be free from any financial concerns (18% – up 4% since 2022).

Scotland are most worried about sudden or unexpected costs – with 52% naming this as one of their biggest financial concerns, compared to the national average of 44%.

42% (-3% since 2022) of those in the South East are worried about running out of money in retirement (compared to the average of 37%) and a quarter are concerned about paying for long-term care. Together with the West Midlands, they are the area where fewest are free from financial worries (10% – no change since 2022).

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