Secret to happiness is 'saving £50 a month'

John Hay
Image caption John Hay has been trying to find a variety of ways to save money

New research suggests that the secret to happiness is simple - save an extra £50 each month.

A survey of almost 2,500 people by NS&I found that savings success has a direct impact on individual's mood and state of mind.

With more than half of the UK unhappy with their savings and a third worrying about their finances, how you can be realistic with how much you squirrel away every month even if you're on a tight budget?

John Hay retired in June but even though he's on a company pension he's lost two-thirds of his income.

Realising the lifestyle he used to have had come to an end, he came up with a number of strategies to ensure that he's able to put money aside each month for a rainy day - from getting a more fuel efficient car to keeping his own chickens so he saves money on his breakfast.

"It takes a lot of getting used to, I must admit," he says. "Now I've got this mobile I'm thinking about getting rid of the landline because we really don't need two phones.

"Two hours in the morning, two or three hours in the evening we have the heating on. The rest of the time we move quicker or we wear a sweater."

Of course, living on a tight budget can take its toll. When he was in work, he and his wife used to enjoy holidays abroad. Now he says they can't afford them.

"A treat for me is going down to the Oxfam and finding somebody has put in a whole set of pencils and paints so that I can buy them for a few pounds," Mr Hay says. "That's my hobby taken care of."

Skip coffee

His money-saving strategy might sound extreme but it's often the simplest changes that can make a big difference.

About two-fifths of Britons collect loose change. If you want to save £50 - the amount NS&I says will make you happier - it'll take just £1.66 a day. That can be as simple as not getting a coffee from a High Street chain.

"We find by making some small changes in your lifestyle you can help put a little bit to one side each month," says Gareth Headon of NS&I. "Crucially, it can help you get into a sense of behaviour and it will help make a difference."

For Jane Simons, of the Money Advice Service, saving money is about making a conscious choice to get a grip on your finances.

She recommends drawing up a realistic budget and then looking for ways to shave off just a small amount to save here and there.

"Do whatever you can to pay down debt," she says. "The next thing is savings, so we would say have some ready money available immediately, just in case."

For her, those extra pennies can be found by bulk buying and taking advantage of supermarket voucher schemes.

"Small amounts really make all the difference," agrees Mr Headon. "Look to see if you can cycle or walk to work instead of other types of transport."

For those looking to save up for a holiday, or perhaps even a house or a car, the pennies soon add up.

And like retiree John Hay, those changes can also help ease your transition and make you happier, should your income suffer a stumble.

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