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Only £10 left – the disposable income of one in ten Brits

One in 10 people, or 5 million British adults, have less than £10 a month left over once they have paid their essential bills.

With many households struggling to make ends meet, the findings from Thinkmoney reveal some worryingly small amounts of money people have. Technically known as discretionary income (rather than the day to day use of disposable income), the amounts were calculated after rent or mortgage payments, bills and food and travel costs were paid.

At the other end of the scale, of the 2,000 people polled, 14% said they had £500 or more of disposable income at the end of the month.

Across the UK, the average monthly disposable income was £187, down by £38 from 2013.

There was also a wide gender difference with men reporting having disposable incomes averaging £208, while women saying they only had £166 on average.

If you find it difficult to make ends meet each month, start with these three steps to gain control of your finances:

1. Work out exactly what you have

Write down what you have going out in terms of bills, rent, mortgage and other expenses, and what you have coming in. The difference between the two is your disposable income.


2. See where you can cut back

Once you’ve written down you spend money on, you’ll see if you are spending on things you don’t use or could do without. Curbing spending money on these, or even just cutting back can give you some more cash to spend or save.

3. Shop around for a better deal

Switching energy, phone or broadband company could save you £100s. Smart shopping on smaller things like your supermarket shop can quickly boost your available cash too.


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  • Jay / 27 January 2017

    I've recently gone from living with parents to owning my own home. It's safe to say my disposable income has significantly dropped. I won't complain, I have chose this lifestyle. I have a 2 year old and chose for my partner to step down from her management role and go part, money alone will not raise my little girl. I now know how people with low incomes feel, I was blind to it previously. The negatives are clear for all to see, the positive is, I'm now more hungry than ever to get more out of my career and deliver more to my family. The way I see it is everything comes at a price, most of the time one mans gain is another mans loss. my advice to anyone would be what can't kill you is not Essential. You need a home to live, you need heating to bath and stay warm, you need electric to operate essential equipment. You don't need sky, you don't need the newest gadget's, all of these are advertised at affordable monthly payments, those payments add up and eat up your income. Be smart, be brave and seek value in the beautiful things that matter, family and friends.

  • Ryan Fitzpatrick / 30 December 2015

    This is what happens when the bankers and politicians manufacture a consumer driven society. Humans have became pigs, ignorant of how much we consume in every sense of the word. We take everything for granted and disrespect the environment which provides all our pleasure.

  • Biggie smalls / 9 December 2015

    I make around 10k/month after taxes (my disposable income). I spend 2.5k on my mortgage on my modest 3 bedroom + loft conversion terraced house, pay my parents mortgage & various other bills (totals around 3.5k). I have around 6k discretionary income. I'm using the money to invest in my property and hopefully buy more property. I'm very lucky as I grew up on benefits myself, but now see how the other half (or I guess top 1-5% live). That said, I can't quit my day job and private school for my children is still not a light decision to make. Also despite my great job, I decided not to go on holiday abroad for the past 2 years as I have a goal with my money.

    Anyway, just sharing some insight. I don't know how the 86% of the country survive with only £500/month discretionary income. We need free time & money to properly contribute to this country. Otherwise we're all just dumb labour serving humans for low wages.

  • Malcolm / 7 August 2015

    You are supposed to be money advice service but you dont understand money you should be calling the figures discretionary income

  • Eleanor / 18 June 2015

    I work hard and have long hours and I have a large disposable income.

  • Nigel Parker / 11 May 2015

    What you are calling 'disposable income' is actually discretionary income. Disposable income is total personal income after taxes, discretionary income is disposable income minus essential payments (food, clothing, shelter). Making such a basic mistake does not inspire confidence that you can offer useful advice. I have a small disposable income (less than benefits level, so small that there are no taxes) but a negative discretionary income - I have to dip into savings to cover the bills many months.

  • Kate / 31 March 2015

    I don't think this is very helpful. These are the sort of things everyone is already doing. What people need is advice on how to live on next to nothing, where small savings can be made. Eg WHERE can you save more money? Just saying 'swapping energy providers' is lazy advice.

  • Terence Pullan / 20 March 2015

    I already keep a tight rein on income and expenditure

  • Philip Shinn / 10 March 2015

    How is this going to work, I have to phone up every week to get my payment paid late. What will it be like when the paymennts are two weeks delayed even if they are paid on time. Please explain why we have to pay benefits ourselves when the present system is working. This is just a plan to get rid of a load of civil servants by the back door. Admit it.