Four million Brits delay financial planning and instead ‘sweat the small stuff’

Over four million Brits admitted they do not have the mental capacity to make the right choices when it comes to tackling difficult decisions, research from Scottish Widows revealed.

On top of this, a further 6.4 million people claimed they simply do not have sufficient time to carry out important life admin.

According to Scottish Widows, it is not just having the time to dedicate to decision making, Brits also have to consider how much effort they give to these decisions. The research found that more than half (52 per cent) of Brits always ensure they are making the best decision when choosing a possible holiday destination. However, when it comes to their pension arrangements, just 29 per cent claimed to be making the best decision.

Scottish Widows suggested that Brits are spending too much time ‘sweating the small stuff’ and therefore reduce the mental energy available for engaging with more important life choices.

Furthermore, the data highlighted that a large proportion of people are failing to make important financial decisions, with 51 per cent not making a decision on whether they should purchase critical illness cover. Almost half (47 per cent) have never considered making changes to their pension arrangements, while almost two in five have not come to a conclusion on whether they will enrol in a life insurance scheme.

Almost 20 per cent of respondents said they put off financial admin because it is too time consuming, while 17 per cent claimed it was too stressful.

Scottish Widows identified that when people tackle important life decisions, such as their finances, they do not always give it their full attention. One in 10 (11 per cent) manage their money at work and 44 per cent sort theirs while sitting on the sofa. More than half (52 per cent) admit to dual screening, with the TV or a movie on in the background.

Commenting, Scottish Widows retirement expert Robert Cochran said: “It’s easy to get caught up when dealing with day-to-day decisions in our hectic lives, but this is stopping many of us from spending the right amount of time making important decisions, which can impact our financial wellness.

“Getting to grips with your financial situation, like figuring out if you’re putting away enough for retirement, is a big decision to make about our future, but technology is making it much easier for people to picture their retirement – seeing your future self makes it much easier to make choices now than a bunch of complicated numbers.”


The Open University Business School professor of organisational behaviour and expert on financial decision making Mark Fenton-O’Creevy added: “Important decisions about our lives can be easier to tackle if we create the mental space to deal with them. Putting lots of time and effort into everyday choices not only reduces our time and mental resources for more important decisions, it can be a way of avoiding difficult choices we should be making.”

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