Have you spent less money during lockdown? Apparently 85% of adults in the UK – at least, those lucky ones still on full income – have seen their spending reduced by an average £617 per month. Obviously, a lot of that money has been saved by not having the daily commute to work, but all the little extras – such as buying coffee and snacks – mount up.
In the US, there’s a similar pattern. Disposable personal income (of those fortunate enough to have incomes) rose by 44.4% in the second quarter against 3.9% in the first.
This kind of saving sounds good on a personal level but actually is very damaging for the overall economy. Consumer spending accounts for a staggering 70% of the US economy; government spending is just 17%.
The ways we spend money have changed, some perhaps permanently. Grocery sales have gone up as more people cook at home but the travel, restaurant and out-of-home entertainment industries have been slaughtered.
A lot of this saved income is just recycled taxpayer cash, both in the US and the UK. What will happen to all this freshly-available paper money? Bank deposits are paying virtually nothing; people may be hoarding cash out of fear they’ll have less income, perhaps no income, in the future.
In other words, people are worrying about their future budgets. How do we learn to manage money?
Mostly, I suspect, it’s a matter of learning by painful experience. When you think about it, this is one of Life’s most important lessons – how to avoid debt, how to manage credit cards, how to save wisely. How to balance our own books; how to manage money.
Yet it’s a lesson that kids generally are not taught at school. We leave them to make their own mistakes – and that’s a mistake.
Watching one of my own children make their return to school in these uncertain, fast-evolving times, I thought how desperately alone all children are when it comes to this biggest lesson of all. Like all of you with children, I do my best to explain but I often sound like Charles Dickens’ Wilkins Micawber, who said in David Copperfield: “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.”
Above all, I try to educate my children about sound money – which is gold, and its safe, instant and easy access – which is Glint.
Until next week,