Page last updated at 23:08 GMT, Thursday, 8 April 2010 00:08 UK

Two generations and their shopping habits

By Katie Prescott

Lindsey Williams and her son Oscar
Lindsey Williams and her son Oscar are careful with their money

Families are spending a bigger proportion of their household income on leisure and are putting less aside in savings than 40 years ago, official statistics show.

The figures reveal the changing priorities of our household expenditure over the last four decades, such as spending a smaller slice of our income on food.

So the BBC News website spoke to two generations of the same family to see how some spending and savings habits have changed, and how some have stayed the same.

Lindsey Williams has two young children in Glan Conwy in North Wales. Her mother, Jane Ockwell, was a new mum in the 1970s in Swindon.

LINDSEY: MUM IN 2010

Mother-of-two Lindsey, 32, is on a six-month unpaid break following her maternity leave, so her household budget is tighter than usual.

On paper, it looks as if we have got lots of disposable income, but it is because we are preparing for the future
Lindsey Williams

She spends about 40% of her weekly budget on food. With two young children, luxury items are not a priority, she says.

"I see electronics as one-off purchases and I would not consider replacing them until they were run into the ground."

She spends little on clothes for herself, but says many of the children's clothes are from family, with lots stored away for the future in wardrobes.

The arrival of her children - Oscar, one, and Finlay, three - has reduced her leisure spending.

"My budget is practically zero, mainly because of having two small children. I do not go out and buy DVDs and I cannot remember the last time we ordered a film," she says.

One of the family's biggest outlays is on fuel, as Lindsey's partner, Andrew, drives 70 miles a day to work.

"Since having the children, we have not had foreign holidays and even before they were born we were masters of the late deal.

"I begrudge spending money on foreign holidays when the kids are this young - I would rather spend it when they are old enough to appreciate them."

But she says that saving is a priority for the young family.

"We are actively saving to try and pay off our mortgage, even though our mortgage rate has dropped. On paper, it looks as if we have got lots of disposable income, but it is because we are preparing for the future."

JANE: MUM IN THE 1970s AND 80s

Lindsey says she has inherited many of her spending habits from her mother, Jane, who lives in Swindon and still has a teenage son at home.

Years ago, you did not necessarily need to spend money to go out and do things and the kids would be happy with that
Jane Ockwell

When bringing up her five older children during the 1970s and 80s, Jane was on income support and says she was very conscious of not spending too much. Most of her budget was spent on food.

They had a small local shop and she says she did most of her shopping in the larger supermarkets on a daily basis, which helped her to budget more efficiently.

"I still do not shop in bulk, and if a shop goes over £50 at one time, it is a worry," she says.

Aside from school uniform, little was spent on clothes, as she made a lot by hand. The children were members of local Scout groups, and so many of their holidays were on the group's camping trips.

Jane estimates that the family only spent 1-2% of their income on leisure activities.

"Years ago, you did not necessarily need to spend money to go out and do things and the kids would be happy with that," she says.

"Happiness is a monetary thing now and money is more involved, whatever you are going to do."

Like her daughter, saving was important to Jane, and she used to put away 5% of her income a week, which she thinks was probably easier before the days of easily available credit.

"I never used credit cards. It would make life harder as it would be difficult to know what you had spent and what you have got," she says.



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