According to a survey conducted by the Post Office, consumers in the UK are thinking about their finances more than ever before, since the start of the recession. In particular, 16 – 30 year olds have changed perceptions of finances, with a quarter of this group claiming to have saved more money since the start of the recession.
The improved attitudes are largely being attributed to the fact that conversations around personal finances are being held more openly now and frugality and conservative spending are commonplace. Attitudes towards frugal living, in fact, have changed drastically since the beginning of the recession. Frivolous spending simply was not possible in the face of rising unemployment, continually rising living costs and less disposable income and so thrifty spending habits were adopted by families on all income levels. It is hoped that these habits long outlive the recession itself.
So is this a silver lining to the worst recession to have gripped the nation (and the world) in a generation? If the attitudes persist, then that in itself could go a long way to eradicating the huge personal debt problem prevalent in the United Kingdom and USA. Or will the attitudes fade as the global economy recovers? Will we start spending as thoughtlessly as we ever had and find ourselves, another generation from now, facing the same economic crisis?
In much the same way that Great Depression changed the lives of the Americans who lived through it and permanently altered their perception of money and spending habits, I believe that the scars of the current downturn will probably serve as enough of a reminder to have a long lasting impact on spending. For those of us who lived through it, at least.