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Are you a spender or a saver? Take our quiz to find out

Pensions awareness dayThe 15th of September is Pensions Awareness Day (PAD). This annual event was launched in 2014 by PensionGeeks, an innovative communications company that aims to put fun into pensions – yes, really! As PAD’s double decker bus hits the road to spread the word, Jonquil Lowe, Senior Lecturer in Economics and Personal Finance at the OU, invites you to ‘know yourself’ as a first step to overcoming the many reasons why we all tend mistakenly to put our head in the sand when it comes to saving for a dim and distant retirement.

The following quiz is adapted from Essential Personal Finance for Employees, co-authored by Jonquil Lowe and due for publication in late 2018.

Are you a pension saver?

1. Take the money or wait?

Suppose you take some faulty goods back to a local shop for a refund of £300. The shopkeeper is about to close for the day and, although willing to give you the £300 now, offers you £330 if you would not mind waiting until tomorrow. What do you do?

a) take the £300 today

b) wait and get £330 tomorrow

2. Shares and savings

Imagine you already have £10,000 savings set aside for the long-term, half invested in shares and half in a savings account. Based on whatever you know about current investment conditions would you change the proportion invested in shares?

a) change the proportion invested in shares

b) make no change

3. Spend or save?

If you had an unexpected £500 bonus from work, what would you be most likely to do? Spend it or save it?

a) spend it

b) save it

4. Late payments

Imagine you have done some freelance work for a big firm and your invoice for £1,000 requests payment within 30 days, with a penalty of £100 if the firm pays late. Which would you prefer: £1,000 in 30 days’ time or £1,100 in 31 days?

a) £1,000 in 30 days

b) £1,100 in 31 days

5. Investing an inheritance

Imagine you have inherited £20,000 in cash and decide to invest it for the long term, splitting it between a savings account and shares traded on the stock market. Based on whatever you know about investment conditions today, roughly how much you would invest in shares?

a) 10%

b) 20%

c) 30%  

d) 40% 

e) 50% 

f) 60%  

g) 70%  

h) 80%

i) 90%    

j) 100%


You are likely to be good at saving for a pension if you answered: (b) at both questions 1 and 4; (a) at question 2 or both (b) at question 2 and (e) at question 5; and (b) at question 3.

You may need to force yourself to take pension saving seriously if: you answered (a) at question 1, especially if you then selected (b) at question 4. This suggests you suffer from the behavioural trait of ‘present bias’, giving a high value to money today even though you are likely to regret this later on.

Similarly, if you chose spend it at question 3, you may be inclined to myopia (short-sightedness) and tend to put off saving until later – maybe too late! If you chose (b) at question 2, but any other  value than 50% (half) at question 5, this suggests you are prone to ‘status quo bias’, an inclination to stick with the current situation rather than make any changes. This can mean you fail to invest your pension savings in the most effective way and may overlook boosting the amount you save to a more adequate level.

But don’t worry! Knowing your behavioural traits is the first step to overcoming them and putting your pension saving on track!

Find out more

Read more tips on saving for your pension from Jonquil Lowe

Take a look at our free learning resources on OpenLearn

Visit the True Potential Centre for the Public Understanding of Personal Finance which undertakes research and provides free resources to help people understand money matters.


About Author

Kath works in the Media Relations team within the Communications Unit at The Open University. She is a skilled communicator with more than 15 years’ experience working in both the public and private sectors. She has a BA (Hons) English and American Literature from University of Warwick and specialises in stories from the Faculty of Social Science, Faculty of Education and Language Studies, BBC programmes, and student stories. In her spare time Kath enjoys touring the country in her hand-painted camper van, Trevor.

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