Spend a little less

£500 on deposit. Clare Francis shows how to attain self-discipline

The survey by M&G threw up four characteristic saver profiles. On the whole it showed that, rather than our age, sex, or where we happen to live, what most influences us in our savings habits is our parents and the way they handle, or handled, their money. Much also depends on what we can afford.

The survey by M&G threw up four characteristic saver profiles. On the whole it showed that, rather than our age, sex, or where we happen to live, what most influences us in our savings habits is our parents and the way they handle, or handled, their money. Much also depends on what we can afford.

One of the profiles identifies "saving shortfallers". These are people who struggle to make ends meet and have little or no spare money to put away for the future.

However, despite the fact that saving shortfallers can't really afford to save regularly, 49 per cent said that if they wanted to buy something expensive, such as a holiday or car, they would rather save than get themselves further into debt; this was a higher percentage than any other group - the average was 35 per cent - and probably reflects concern about the ability to repay loans.

More than a tenth of the population are "saving shirkers". More than a third of saving shirkers have no savings at all, while 56 per cent save less than £100 a month.

However, this is not because they can't afford to save any money - 58 per cent said that they could easily afford to save an extra £10 a month - but that they would rather live for today and enjoy themselves than think ahead and save for the future.

Of those in this group that do save, the most common savings priority is a holiday - since saving shirkers have short-term rather than long-term goals. They are also least influenced by their parents.

Some 29 per cent of people are aware that they need to save but believe they could be more organised in their savings habits. Of the "sometimes savers", more than a third manage to save between £100 and £499 a month, although 71 per cent are worried that they don't put enough money aside for the future.

However, this group seems most willing to save an extra £10 a month - 94 per cent said they would be willing to give something up in order to save more.

The final profile is the "savvy saver". These are the people who believe that they should save as much as they can; they often have an investment strategy for the long term. They seem more concerned about building a reserve for their retirement rather than just putting money away for an outlay, like a holiday.

Of all the groups, savvy savers have been most influenced by their parents and are likely to have started saving at an early age. They are also the most organised, and though they save as much as they can, 66 per cent said they could save an extra £10 a month without missing the cash.

Nearly half of the savvy savers rely on newspapers for information on savings and investment products. A higher percentage than average - 41 per cent, compared to an average of 32 per cent - seek advice from an independent financial adviser.

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