• Women more likely than men to say they are vulnerable to a financial shock
  • ‘Reflecting Ireland’ survey reveals strong levels of satisfaction with Ireland as a place to grow up and grow old

Permanent TSB’s latest Reflecting Ireland report looks at how people view their lives on this island, what concerns them, and what hopes they have for 2023.

The findings reveal that most of us are happy with the country we call home. We see it as a good place to grow up and grow old in, we prize our decency and values, but few have not been impacted by a changing economic environment. Pragmatism is an enduring theme and people recognise that there are testing times ahead and plan to cut our cloth accordingly.

Many consumers planning to save more in response to economic uncertainty

Many consumers, particularly those in the 18-34 age group, are planning to save more than ever in response to economic uncertainty as we enter 2023, according to the latest research conducted for Permanent TSB’s “Reflecting Ireland” quarterly series on consumer attitudes and behaviours.

  • Under 34 year olds (33%) plan to save more in 2023 than in the past, with 18% of all consumers signalling a similar intention.
  • Two thirds (65%) of consumers plan to put at least some money aside on a regular basis in 2023, with 75% of those aged 18-24 planning to do so.
  • The proportion of consumers planning to save regularly has increased from 58% in 2021 to 65% in 2022, which may lead to reduced discretionary spending in the economy
  • The proportion that are not in a position to save has reduced from 38% to 27%.

However, cost of living pressures are also influencing savings levels, with 40% of people saying they will cut back on the amount they save over the year ahead. 

The most common reason given for saving is precautionary - for a ‘rainy day’ (51% of respondents). Other popular reasons are for a holiday (38%), a new car (27%) or home-related (home improvements 22%, mortgage deposit 16%).

Those saving for a mortgage deposit are more likely to be aged 25-34 (39%) or 35-44 (21%).

Reflecting Ireland is a quarterly research series from Permanent TSB which examines topical issues.  The research was undertaken by Kantar in November 2022 amongst [~1000] adults.

Women feel more vulnerable to a financial shock than men

A check on our financial wellbeing reveals a mixed picture. While some feel able for the financial challenges ahead others feel they will struggle.

The research also found that 44% of women feel they are vulnerable to a financial shock – i.e. that they could not pay for a major unexpected expense. This is significantly more than the level of men (27%) who feel this way.

The extent to which consumers feel under financial pressure is underlined by many other findings of the research, including:

  • 59% of consumers say they only expect to “get by” in 2023, with a further 16% saying they expect to struggle.
  • 36% do not expect to have any money left over at the end of the month after paying all their bills and living expenses
  • 55% of people feel confident about being able to manage their finances but 19% do not
  • A greater proportion of young people say finances “control” their lives – 62% of those aged from 25 to 34 and 60% of those aged from 35 to 44. This compares with 53% for the population as a whole.

Strong levels of satisfaction with Ireland as a place to grow up or grow old

The research also identified significant positive sentiment towards living in Ireland.

Three quarters of people (74%) believe that all in all, Ireland is a good place to grow up in, and only 1 in 10 (9%) disagree.

61% believe Ireland is a good place to grow old in, with 18% disagreeing. 

These sentiments appear to align well with the findings of the 2022 UN Human Development Report, in which Ireland ranks 8th out of 191 countries on the UN Human Development Index, a global measure of quality of life based on four factors: life expectancy, health, standard of living and education.

The Reflecting Ireland research also revealed that the welcoming nature of Irish people is seen as one of the best things about living in Ireland today, with 51% citing this as a key positive. Our natural environment (48%), culture (38%) and community values (31%) were also cited. 

However, when it came to issues of concern, Ireland’s healthcare system was identified as the main negative factor about living here, with 59% of respondents highlighting it as a key concern. This was followed by our political system (37%), crime (37%) and poor planning (36%).    

When asked what people believe are the most important issues to be addressed in Ireland, the cost of living topped the list by a significant distance at 81%. 

Housing issues, including the price of housing (47%), homelessness (46%) and affordable rents (34%) ranked next, with access to quality healthcare at 44%. 

Leontia Fannin, Permanent TSB Head of Corporate Affairs and Communications, said:

“Despite the significant financial pressure many are under, and high levels of concern about housing and healthcare in particular, it is good to see that all in all, most of us believe Ireland is a good place to grow up in (74%) and to grow old in (61%). 

People appreciate the positives about living in Ireland, particularly our welcoming nature, our environment, our culture and our values.  That said, people are also very aware that more needs to be done to improve our services and make them fairer for all. This should focus our minds as we head towards 2023.”

Claire Cogan, behavioural scientist, said:

“As we enter 2023 and the cost of living challenge continues, it is good to see that over half of us feel confident about managing our day-to-day finances, however it is sobering that 1 in 5 do not. 

While many people are planning to increase their savings, a significant number do not have the flexibility to do so.  There are clear indications that many will struggle, with a third saying they won’t have money left over at the end of the month, or they wouldn’t be able to handle a major unexpected expense.

There are clear differences in the extent to which people feel able to cope with financial challenges in 2023.”

Read the full Reflecting Ireland report here

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