One in three saved nothing in last three months

While the number of people dipping into their deposits was similar to the same period last year, savers are ‘raiding’ more money and becoming less inclined to take action to protect their hard earned pounds.

Savers put away 13% more money on average between November 2013 and January 2014 (£770) than the same months the previous year (£680).

However, the amount that was unexpectedly taken out of savings pots by 'raiders' increased by over a third (34%) with an average of £1539 being used this year compared to £1148 over the same period in the previous year.

In addition, the proportion of people saving nothing at all over the festive period (November to January) increased from one in four (23%) a year ago to one in three (33%) in this year.

Those most likely to have saved nothing at all in the last three months remain 55-64 year olds (45%), with this figure also up from 32% from the same period the last year.

While the greatest proportion of savers were caught out by emergency home and car repairs (19%), an increasing number - 13% this year compared to 8% last year - are using their savings to buy impulse gifts and to spend on luxury items.

The number of people lending their savings to friends and family has also increased by 50% over the last 12 months (from 8% to 12%).

Some efforts are being made by savers to avoid dipping into their savings pots: one in three (31%) try to cut other costs, one in four save their money away from their main bank and almost one in five (17%) have a number of different savings accounts.

However, 28% still make no effort at all to defend their deposits.

In addition, three quarters (73%) of people now admit to having no buffer limit on their savings, meaning that no effort is made to keep their personal reserves above a certain amount.

A lack of focus on what people are saving towards – 36% are saving for nothing specific and 27% for a ‘rainy day’ – will also be contributing to the ease at which savings are being unexpectedly spent.

Richard Fearon, head of Halifax Savings, said: “It can be extremely hard to establish, and stick to, a savings habit, particularly at expensive times of the year or when it’s tempting to treat yourself to something to cheer up the gloomy winter months.

“By being realistic about what you’re able to save and setting yourself savings goals it can make saving easier.

“If you can identify the most common reasons you dip into your savings, you can putting money away for these things in advance and avoid being caught out by what seem like unexpected costs.”

In every region, apart from the South West, the amount raided by savers was more than the amount saved.

Some 72% of people living in the East Midlands managed to put some money aside in the last three months, the greatest proportion of any region, whilst those living in the Wales (59%) were least likely to save.

The North East was the area where most people were likely to dip into their savings (41%), with savers in Scotland the least likely (23%).