ONE in three Scots has saved nothing at all in the last three months, a report has claimed.
Those who do have savings are less likely to dip into them than anywhere else in the UK but when they do, they are likely to raid the household piggy bank for a far larger sum than in most other areas.
Fewer than a quarter of savers north of the Border say they have dipped into their savings accounts to pay for extra expenses such as luxury items or holidays, but those who have took £1,732, compared to a UK average of £1,539, according to the Halifax report.
Meanwhile, UK-wide, three in four people make no effort to keep their savings above a set amount, the survey found.
However, savers put away 13 per cent more money on average between November last year and January 2014, at £770, than the previous year’s figure of £680.
Paul Crayston, spokesman for Money Advice Trust Scotland, said spiralling household bills were making it more difficult for people to save regularly.
“Saving can be a difficult discipline to master, especially when savings are competing with increasing household bills for a portion of your monthly income,” he said.
“The best way to get started is to do a complete, thorough budget sheet.
“Use this to list all income and essential outgoings; that way you can see what you have left over each month. That surplus money can be used to pay off debts in the first instance and then to save.
“For some things, it’s important to put money aside each month as part of your regular expenditure – for example, it’s a good idea to spread the cost of Christmas across all 12 months of the year, rather than just taking the hit in December.”
Among the top things for which people say they are saving are funds for a holiday, their retirement, a house deposit and a car. However, the vast majority – totalling 63 per cent of savers – have little focus on what they are saving for, with 36 per cent saying they are saving for nothing specific and 27 per cent citing a “rainy day”.
Some efforts are being made by savers to avoid dipping into their savings pots: one in three tries to cut other costs, one in four saves money away from their main bank and almost one in five has a number of different savings accounts. However, 28 per cent still make no effort at all to defend their nest eggs.
Richard Fearon, head of Halifax Savings, said: “It can be extremely hard to establish, and stick to, a savings habit, particularly at expensive times of the year or when it’s tempting to treat yourself to something to cheer up the gloomy winter months.
“By being realistic and setting yourself savings goals, you can make saving easier. If you can identify the most common reasons you dip into your savings, you can be putting money away for these things in advance and avoid being caught out by what seem like unexpected costs.”