Press releases


group-images-mediacentre-press releases-people-IMG-Tim Gosden.
Tim Gosden
Head of Strategy Individual Annuities

17 December 2012

group-images-mediacentre-press releases-people-IMG-Tim Gosden.
Tim Gosden
Head of Strategy Individual Annuities

It may or may not be a white Christmas this year, but 88% of UK adults who celebrate Christmas say they are planning to take action to ensure they don't overspend this year, and it is the over 55s who prove to be the most savvy, according to new research by Legal & General's annuities business.

With the country coping with Christmas during a period of austerity, the Legal & General survey shows the steps the over 55s who celebrate Christmas are likely to have taken or be planning to ensure they don't overspend included:

  • Keeping decorations and lights to avoid having to buy again (72%)
  • Bought Christmas cards last January when they were cheaper (35%)
  • Buying food early and freezing it (26%)
  • Keeping wrapping paper and ribbons to re-use (23%)
  • Focusing on spending time with loved ones instead of buying lavish presents (22%)
  • Making Christmas cake/pudding and mince pies (21%)
  • Focus on family games rather than going out (13%)

The savvy habits of the over 55s are not just confined to the Christmas countdown. The survey revealed significant variations in general attitudes to budgeting by age group, which suggests the over 55s are the group best equipped mentally to cope with a lengthy period of austerity and navigate their way through the economic downturn. The research also shows younger generations may be finding it more difficult to cope.

The survey asked over 2,000 adults what steps they had taken or were planning, to make their money go further. The findings suggest that the over 55 age group is more likely to have grown up living within their means and adapting their lifestyle to the money available. This is reflected in their behaviour, which makes them most likely to fix items that break rather than throw them away (55%), make things or make alterations rather than buying new (24%), and grow their own fruit and veg (22%). They're also more likely to only buy things they really need (71%), look for the cheapest utilities (46%) and use a library rather than buy books or music (22%).

In contrast, those aged 35 to 54 make savings by trying to buy less and cutting back on or deferring treats and outings - but it is mostly action that relates to how and when they buy new items. So the survey confirms a clear difference in attitude between the over 55s "saving" generation, prepared to budget within the income they have coming in and the younger "spenders" who still buy but hunt for bargains and price cuts.

When asked what actions they were doing or planning to make their money go further, the over 55s were most likely to be taking a number of courses of action [see table in notes to editors]. When asked to describe their general approach to money management, the over 55s were also the most likely to say they:

  • checked bank balances regularly (76%)
  • adjusted their lifestyle and spending to the certainty of what they had coming in each month (49%);
  • saved money and only bought something when they could afford it (48%);
  • plan for tomorrow by managing their finances rigorously (41%).

Younger people, those who have grown up on a 'buy now pay later culture', were more likely to be struggling. For example 35-54 year olds were those most likely to say they:

  • never seemed to have enough money so just ended up having to do without things (28%);
  • were always playing catch up and never quite cleared their debts (21%).

Tim Gosden, Head of Annuities at Legal & General annuities said: "In recent months, there's been a lot of debate on how people are coping, based on projecting cost of living hikes against average income levels. When it comes to coping with austerity in the long term, it is attitudes to money management that really matter and our research suggests older people are better placed to adjust. They have grown up with a savings culture and lived through past recessions and the result is they are naturally attuned to adapting to the certainty of what income they have coming in, rather than trying to adapt the way they spend and consume.

"The younger generations can learn a lot about being savvy and day to day coping from the over 55s, with managing Christmas on a budget being a good example. Evidence suggests however that even the over 55 age group fall short when it comes to securing their longer term financial future.

"A pension annuity gives most people of this age group the income certainty so many desire, but industry statistics* indicate that 66% of retirees buy their pension annuity directly from the provider they saved with, in most cases without even looking around for a better deal elsewhere. The result unfortunately is that many lose out on extra income, perhaps 40% more income, for the rest of their lives.

" We encourage the over 55s to use the same savvy shopping approach they use everyday on the high street, when looking for the best deal on their pension annuities. We'd also say that shopping around can make a difference even to the smallest of pension funds and so it is something everyone should consider doing."

To find out more about this research, visit

Notes to editors

*Souce ABI Code of Conduct on Retirement Choices, March 2012

The research was conducted for Legal & General by YouGov among a UK sample of 2,069 people between 23-26 November 2012. The survey was carried out online and figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults aged 18+.

Background on Legal & General's annuity business

Legal & General is one of the UK's leading financial services companies and one of the FTSE 100 companies. Legal & General currently has over 700,000 pension customers and in the last 12 months paid pension income of more than £1.25 billion.

The information contained in this release is intended solely for journalists and should not be used by consumers to make financial decisions.

Legal & General Assurance Society Limited. Registered address: One Coleman Street, London EC2R 5AA. Registered in England No 166055. 

Table 1:
The top 10 steps people of all ages have taken or plan to take, specifically to be savvy with money and make it go further.

Table 1%
 Shop around and compare prices online before making a purchase66% 
Only buy things I really need and will use 64% 
 Compare prices/offers in various shops before making a purchase 62%