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Squeezed Brits fear ‘major lifestyle changes’

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One in four hard-hit consumers are in danger of having to make major lifestyle changes to cope with financial pressures, a report reveals.

Changes included moving to a cheaper house, giving up a holiday, taking kids out of private education and delaying marriage, children or retirement, according to AXA’s ‘Big Money Index’ found

Worryingly, one in six of the adults polled said they would not be able to cover their financial outgoings for the next three months if they lost their job today.

The report found that even the wealthy – those with above-average incomes and some with second homes – are making cutbacks, with 39% saying they have bought significantly fewer luxuries since the start of 2011. Almost one quarter (23%) have taken the trouble to switch utility providers to get cheaper rates.

According to the research, consumers are turning to grocery shopping to cut bills with more than a third (37%) admitting they have switched to a cheaper supermarket for basic food shopping and almost half (47%) collecting and using more money-off vouchers in the past three to six months.

The wealthy have also changed their chopping habits – 45% said they now went to cheaper shops and discount stores.

Debt is also on the rise with one in ten consumers using loans or credit cards to make ends meet. This increased to almost one in five among younger adults.  Almost one in five had stopped putting money into savings by the end of 2012.

Andy Zanelli, savings and pensions expert at AXA Wealth, said: “Across all groups, spending cutbacks were again rife. 2013 represents a huge challenge for many.”

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