It’s easy to assume that in the current poor economic times, no-one has savings. Yet many, including those feeling the pinch, are savers, who are suffering cripplingly low interest rates and want information.
Trying to discuss savers’ issues in mainstream broadcast media can, on occasion, be a tough sell. I’ve been told a few times, "none of our audience have any money".
And I’m not surprised, as when I do these discussions (thanks to my regular programmes for the opportunity) that in the streams of people sending in questions, there’s often someone tweeting or emailing something like "pah – who’s got savings?" or "why aren’t you helping real people?". But I’ve never had a tweet from a saver complaining when I do debt cost-cutting slots.
These tweets make editors think that by covering savings, they’ll appear out of touch. Of course no audience is financially homogenous, so no one subject will ever appeal to all.
While I understand why a general producer who has to balance lots of subjects such as politics, showbiz, news and money would think this – there is a risk of confusing sentiment and the squeeze on incomes with people not having assets.
So it’s worth looking at some stats.
Are people savers or debtors?
The following are the results of a poll of 10,000+ people we did last October. Of course it’s of MSE users, but on these issues we tend to reflect the average internet users.
Q. Excluding mortgages and student loans, are you a debtor or saver?
|Over £25,000 more debt than savings||8%|
|£5,000 – £24,999 more debt than savings||20%|
|Up to £4,999 more debt than savings||19%|
|Roughly the same of both||5%|
|Up to £4,999 more savings than debt||12%|
|£5,000 – £24,999 more savings than debt||19%|
|Over £25,000 more savings than debt||22%|
As this shows, the debt-savings seesaw is roughly balanced – yet look at how many have substantial savings.
Both debt and savings have their place on TV
It’s worth noting that the number of people in severe debt is roughly balanced by those with over £25,000 in savings. I know the first would be a much easier broadcast sell-in slot, as it’s perceived to be the more common scenario (and of course there’s a greater urgency with helping people with debt problems too).
But I’ve lost track of the numbers of callers during Daybreak cash clinics, for example, who ask: "I’ve £50,000 saved what should I do with it?" Plaudits to Daybreak for listening to their audience and throwing savings slots into the mix recently.
Part of all this is the idea that ‘all real people are struggling’. Yet not everyone is struggling, and even many of those who are still have savings – built up over years of hard work.
So a little plea to producers out there – please don’t be drawn into thinking everyone is in debt and has no cash. Many people are jealously protecting their hard-saved money and being financially prudent – and they want info too.