Britain: A nation proud to be ‘tight’

Nearly three quarters of Brits said they had revised their expenditure for the better over the last 12 months amid the recent economic downturn, according to Aviva research. But, incredibly, one in ten may have gone a step too far by taking clothes back they have already worn! Some 17 per cent have even refused to contribute to a colleague’s birthday fund, while over a quarter make an effort to drive slowly in a bid to preserve petrol.

Tim Orton, product director for Aviva Pensions and Investments, said: “What this research shows us is that many people are already making smart moves to cut their monthly expenditure, and this can only be seen as a good thing, especially if they are saving or investing this ‘extra’ money elsewhere. What’s really important is that people have access to the best information, through product provider and financial advisers, to make the most of this money.”

The poll also revealed that 25 per cent of people are so resourceful they re-use old cereal boxes and jam jars and one in ten even use teabags more than once. A crafty 13 per cent of thrifty Brits have snuck a bottle of wine in to a theatre or pub rather than paying sky high prices, and one in five of us would happily scrabble on the floor if we saw a one pence coin.

More common signs of being frugal included saving wrapping paper from presents, parking further away from shops to avoid a parking charge and using coupons or vouchers.

Not surprisingly then, 56 per cent of those polled said they got a ‘buzz’ when finding a good ‘money off’ deal. But 36 per cent said they were happy to be called a penny-pincher and 28 per cent are frequently called tight by their friends and family. Of those, 26 per cent found the term ‘tight’ insulting, but a more laidback 35 per cent said they don’t take it seriously.

A staggering eight in ten of the 2,000 adults polled felt that if people were more conscious of their spending habits and better at watching the pennies they wouldn’t be in such a financial mess. A third of adults have set up a direct debit to ensure they put something away every month, with the typical saver setting aside £144 each month.

Orton added: “There is a significant difference between being tight and being careful with money. We all want to stretch our money as far as possible of course, so it’s highly advisable to keep an eye on our spending habits and make adjustments where necessary. But being described as tight suggests we are lacking in generosity which nobody wants to be accused of.

Here are the top 29 tight traits on the list, all of which are perfectly valid ways to save money.  

  1. Saving coupons / using vouchers; 
  2. Making your own lunches to take to work; 
  3. Only boiling enough water for cups of tea and coffee you’re making; 
  4. Parking on a road further away from the shops so you don’t have to pay; 
  5. Refusing to leave a tip; 
  6. Only heating rooms you use; 
  7. Using internet /phone apps to find cheapest place to buy items; 
  8. Shaking the end of a petrol pump so you don’t leave any in the hose; 
  9. Saving used wrapping paper to re-wrap presents; 
  10. Driving slower to preserve petrol; 
  11. Keeping/reusing old cartons / jam jars etc;
  12. Used a calculator or phone in a restaurant to work out the bill; 
  13. Scrabbling on the floor for a dropped penny coin; 
  14. Sharing bath water / having a shower rather than a bath; 
  15. Not contributing to a colleague’s birthday present; 
  16. Filling up the car with half a tank of petrol as it’s economical;
  17. Save dish / bath water to use on the garden; 
  18. Making birthday cards / presents; 
  19. Sneaking your own bottle of wine into the theatre / pub; 
  20. Posting parcels / Christmas / Birthday cards through work; 
  21. Re-using teabags; 
  22. Returned worn clothes; 
  23. Demanding 5p or 10p change from the person you sent to buy your lunch; 
  24. Keeping cling-film to use again; 
  25. Buying the last round in a large group safe in the knowledge you won’t have to get a second one in; 
  26. Asking for petrol money on a journey you would be doing anyway; 
  27. Leaving the pub before it’s your turn to buy a round; 
  28. Saying ‘I don’t want to break into a 20’ so someone else says ‘I’ll get these’; and
  29. Rounding up people’s change in your favour.
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