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Very Unscientific Socio-Financial Observations

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VERY occassionally, as I am sure many here have also experienced, I come across discarded/left behind 'balance slips' (or 'mini' statements) from cash machines whilst still in the machine. Sometimes however I come across these from the user immediately before me as I wait behind them to use the machine - then to see after they have walked off that they have forgotten/left the print out slip behind.

The fascinating thing is (nosily) noting the remaining available balance on that persons account and noting, (1) their appearance, and (2) location.

By the latter point I am referring to inferring the probability of the employment situation of the person.

For example, an elderly casually inexpensively dressed person carrying a Tesco bag of shopping is most likely a pensioner of not excessive financial means? Admittedly they could also be eccentric millionaires who enjoy living a simple life but it’s not unreasonable to assume the first guess is more likely to be closer to the persons actual status/circumstances. Similarly, a person dressed in smart office type attire out around midday holding a coffee/sandwich/etc in an area surrounded by commercial buildings as opposed to residential property, is most likely from some nearby offices and maybe out for lunch, etc – and hence in employment.

The last example can be ‘refined’ further? For example a conservative business suit type dressed person wearing ‘high grade’ clothing, e.g expensive shoes, high quality suit (as opposed to off the shelf polyester type affair) and seen in the vicinity of Londons legal district would more likely be a higher earning professional? (As far as women are concerned, my sharp eyed wife has in the past pointed out to me the likely wealth/access to money of passing females merely via the type/quality of their hosiery!)

Admittedly these types of deductive observations are very unscientific and a far too amateurish attempt to play Sherlock Holmes with so little to go on. Nevertheless, what I have noticed is the frequency which said balance printouts show, (1) very small balance remaining, and/or (2) the cash withdrawal was for a very small amount (e.g £10 or so).

BUT the thing that has most surprised me, to the point of doing a double take on more than one occassion, is the high proportion of such small remaining balances, and the presumed senior earnings potential status of the person (via their appearance and time/location) who had just left the scene.

On one occasion I witnessed a very dapper chap leave a balance slip behind, had a nosey look (before using the machine myself) and saw in excess of £18000 remaining balance. Just looking at his appearance and the office building he subsequently walked into across the street, this didnt surprise me. BUT this was the exception. In variably I have seen people, who look like they should have more, showing barely a few tens of pounds remaining.

Admittedly in many of these cases the card used may be just one of many banks accounts at their disposal – and these people were choosing, for whatever reason, to withdraw from the account with the lowest balance.

Yes I know some will read this and say “get a life” and “don’t be so nosey”, etc – but the point I am trying to convey is that it would seem that a great many people may be living on very thin ice financially. Are these people examples of what we read about, so many people living from one paycheck to the next?

Edited by anonguest

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VERY occassionally, as I am sure many here have also experienced, I come across discarded/left behind 'balance slips' (or 'mini' statements) from cash machines whilst still in the machine. Sometimes however I come across these from the user immediately before me as I wait behind them to use the machine - then to see after they have walked off that they have forgotten/left the print out slip behind.

The fascinating thing is (nosily) noting the remaining available balance on that persons account and noting, (1) their appearance, and (2) location.

By the latter point I am referring to inferring the probability of the employment situation of the person.

For example, an elderly casually inexpensively dressed person carrying a Tesco bag of shopping is most likely a pensioner of not excessive financial means? Admittedly they could also be eccentric millionaires who enjoy living a simple life but it’s not unreasonable to assume the first guess is more likely to be closer to the persons actual status/circumstances. Similarly, a person dressed in smart office type attire out around midday holding a coffee/sandwich/etc in an area surrounded by commercial buildings as opposed to residential property, is most likely from some nearby offices and maybe out for lunch, etc – and hence in employment.

The last example can be ‘refined’ further? For example a conservative business suit type dressed person wearing ‘high grade’ clothing, e.g expensive shoes, high quality suit (as opposed to off the shelf polyester type affair) and seen in the vicinity of Londons legal district would more likely be a higher earning professional? (As far as women are concerned, my sharp eyed wife has in the past pointed out to me the likely wealth/access to money of passing females merely via the type/quality of their hosiery!)

Admittedly these types of deductive observations are very unscientific and a far too amateurish attempt to play Sherlock Holmes with so little to go on. Nevertheless, what I have noticed is the frequency which said balance printouts show, (1) very small balance remaining, and/or (2) the cash withdrawal was for a very small amount (e.g £10 or so).

BUT the thing that has most surprised me, to the point of doing a double take on more than one occassion, is the high proportion of such small remaining balances, and the presumed senior earnings potential status of the person (via their appearance and time/location) who had just left the scene.

On one occasion I witnessed a very dapper chap leave a balance slip behind, had a nosey look (before using the machine myself) and saw in excess of £18000 remaining balance. Just looking at his appearance and the office building he subsequently walked into across the street, this didnt surprise me. BUT this was the exception. In variably I have seen people, who look like they should have more, showing barely a few tens of pounds remaining.

Admittedly in many of these cases the card used may be just one of many banks accounts at their disposal – and these people were choosing, for whatever reason, to withdraw from the account with the lowest balance.

Yes I know some will read this and say “get a life” and “don’t be so nosey”, etc – but the point I am trying to convey is that it would seem that a great many people may be living on very thin ice financially. Are these people examples of what we read about, so many people living from one paycheck to the next?

One would imagine that the majority of folk are in such a parlous state. Deleveraging and currency debasement are such horrid things.

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Are these people examples of what we read about, so many people living from one paycheck to the next?

I wear good suits but never keep more than a grand or two in my current account. Do you expect me to put all my life savings in there at 0.0003%

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How often does this happen that you can notice a trend - I reckon I could count on one hand the number of times it's happened to me in the last 5 years. Maybe I'm just a tight git who never withdraws cash... :unsure:

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I've got two things to say to you:

1. Your statistical analysis is a load of rubbish

2. Go and mind your own business, creep.

Edited by caparn

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Admittedly in many of these cases the card used may be just one of many banks accounts at their disposal – and these people were choosing, for whatever reason, to withdraw from the account with the lowest balance.

Yes I know some will read this and say “get a life” and “don’t be so nosey”, etc – but the point I am trying to convey is that it would seem that a great many people may be living on very thin ice financially. Are these people examples of what we read about, so many people living from one paycheck to the next?

To get the full picture you should follow them home and spend 6 months examining the contents of their bins.

Edited by Sceptical

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I never keep more than a few hundred pounds at any one time in my current account. I sweep the balance into a better paying account religiously.

What I do find curious, though, is the number of people who try anything up to five cards and then walk off empty-handed pocketed.

Now that's sad.

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I never keep more than a few hundred pounds at any one time in my current account. I sweep the balance into a better paying account religiously.

What I do find curious, though, is the number of people who try anything up to five cards and then walk off empty-handed pocketed.

Now that's sad.

I only ever keep my current account topped up for what I need each month, the rest is into savings accounts. I have about 12 separate accounts, plus share dealing, ISAs etc. One gets all my expenses that I've claimed back and my aim is not to spend it.

I learnt the lesson of not to keep too much in my bank account after my wife had a debit card stolen on a joint account we had - fortunately the bank covered the £8k that was stolen.

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I know someone in retail banking who gets to see all the numbers behind the counter.

Most people are skint, and in hock to the bank.

No surprise, theres pressure to sell loans, and other products (he has to hit the targets of). I think he left banking not long ago.

Edited by Money Spinner

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I only ever keep my current account topped up for what I need each month, the rest is into savings accounts. I have about 12 separate accounts, plus share dealing, ISAs etc. One gets all my expenses that I've claimed back and my aim is not to spend it.

I learnt the lesson of not to keep too much in my bank account after my wife had a debit card stolen on a joint account we had - fortunately the bank covered the £8k that was stolen.

Yes, that's probably why the OP's observations don't tell us much. My bank urges me every so often to transfer my current account balance and avoid risk of theft.

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VERY occassionally, as I am sure many here have also experienced, I come across discarded/left behind 'balance slips' (or 'mini' statements) from cash machines whilst still in the machine. Sometimes however I come across these from the user immediately before me as I wait behind them to use the machine - then to see after they have walked off that they have forgotten/left the print out slip behind.

The fascinating thing is (nosily) noting the remaining available balance on that persons account and noting, (1) their appearance, and (2) location.

By the latter point I am referring to inferring the probability of the employment situation of the person.

For example, an elderly casually inexpensively dressed person carrying a Tesco bag of shopping is most likely a pensioner of not excessive financial means? Admittedly they could also be eccentric millionaires who enjoy living a simple life but it’s not unreasonable to assume the first guess is more likely to be closer to the persons actual status/circumstances. Similarly, a person dressed in smart office type attire out around midday holding a coffee/sandwich/etc in an area surrounded by commercial buildings as opposed to residential property, is most likely from some nearby offices and maybe out for lunch, etc – and hence in employment.

The last example can be ‘refined’ further? For example a conservative business suit type dressed person wearing ‘high grade’ clothing, e.g expensive shoes, high quality suit (as opposed to off the shelf polyester type affair) and seen in the vicinity of Londons legal district would more likely be a higher earning professional? (As far as women are concerned, my sharp eyed wife has in the past pointed out to me the likely wealth/access to money of passing females merely via the type/quality of their hosiery!)

Admittedly these types of deductive observations are very unscientific and a far too amateurish attempt to play Sherlock Holmes with so little to go on. Nevertheless, what I have noticed is the frequency which said balance printouts show, (1) very small balance remaining, and/or (2) the cash withdrawal was for a very small amount (e.g £10 or so).

BUT the thing that has most surprised me, to the point of doing a double take on more than one occassion, is the high proportion of such small remaining balances, and the presumed senior earnings potential status of the person (via their appearance and time/location) who had just left the scene.

On one occasion I witnessed a very dapper chap leave a balance slip behind, had a nosey look (before using the machine myself) and saw in excess of £18000 remaining balance. Just looking at his appearance and the office building he subsequently walked into across the street, this didnt surprise me. BUT this was the exception. In variably I have seen people, who look like they should have more, showing barely a few tens of pounds remaining.

Admittedly in many of these cases the card used may be just one of many banks accounts at their disposal – and these people were choosing, for whatever reason, to withdraw from the account with the lowest balance.

Yes I know some will read this and say “get a life” and “don’t be so nosey”, etc – but the point I am trying to convey is that it would seem that a great many people may be living on very thin ice financially. Are these people examples of what we read about, so many people living from one paycheck to the next?

Or maybe most of cash ppor chap cash is in his partner's account and the £18k chap just MEW and now has £180k debt ?

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I know someone in retail banking who gets to see all the numbers behind the counter.

Most people are skint, and in hock to the bank.

No surprise, theres pressure to sell loans, and other products (he has to hit the targets of). I think he left banking not long ago.

The other thing you are forgetting is that the available balance will include any overdraft facility.

In my case a £10 available balance would mean nearly a few grand overdrawn :blink:

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I always use the "cash without advice slip" option, as I don't want nosey people to know how skint I am. I hope instead that my smart clothes make me look well-off to the casual observer.

Your research does not take people like me into account. The situation is much worse than you presume it to be.

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Most people who really are skint will not be reading this, they'll be down the pub or practising to appear on X-Factor. As others have already alluded, the current account means not a lot when it comes to true £ wealth.

I regular go below £1k credit on my spending account, with a nice overdraft to help out if I need a few days liquidity. If you stood behind me in the queue you'd think I was a scruffy looking student, as I look young for my age. You'd scoff at my paltry-ish balance and wonder what drugs the £100 I'd just withdrawn would go on.

The real money is elsewhere, where it isn't earning exactly 0.0%. You are probably on the wrong forum for this. Try MSE, I'd be interested in the outcome.

p.s. perhaps turnover is more important. The people behind the counter at my bank may well see the large "in" and "out" that occurs every month. Even that is just a fraction.

Edited by Cash with Nowhere to Go

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Yes I know some will read this and say “get a life” and “don’t be so nosey”, etc – but the point I am trying to convey is that it would seem that a great many people may be living on very thin ice financially. Are these people examples of what we read about, so many people living from one paycheck to the next?

During the near meltdown of the banking system I remember hearing the statistic that about 90% of the population have only about three grand or less in savings- or something along those lines.

The problem is the housing mania encouraged so many to leverage up their property position and buy at the outer limits of affordability- no wonder every move in house prices is met with either cries of ecstasy or moans of despair.

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During the near meltdown of the banking system I remember hearing the statistic that about 90% of the population have only about three grand or less in savings- or something along those lines.

The problem is the housing mania encouraged so many to leverage up their property position and buy at the outer limits of affordability- no wonder every move in house prices is met with either cries of ecstasy or moans of despair.

Agreed. The madness of crowds remains undminished, notwithstanding the passing of the ages.

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The words 'available funds' is very deceiving you could be £1000 into an overdraft and still have £1000 'available to spend' which means you have less than zilch. ;)

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The words 'available funds' is very deceiving you could be £1000 into an overdraft and still have £1000 'available to spend' which means you have less than zilch. wink.gif

Quite. To paraphrase George Carlin, Western consumers "buy crap they don't need, with money they don't have".

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I've never paid off my student overdraft. Have been around £3000 overdrawn in my current account for 10 years.

Fortunately that's not an accurate picture of my finances.

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Quite. To paraphrase George Carlin, Western consumers "buy crap they don't need, with money they don't have".

But the beer that I buy with the money I don't have is 90% tax so its all good for the state! The stuff I smoke on the other hand...

Edited by Unemployed Youth

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During the near meltdown of the banking system I remember hearing the statistic that about 90% of the population have only about three grand or less in savings- or something along those lines.

The problem is the housing mania encouraged so many to leverage up their property position and buy at the outer limits of affordability- no wonder every move in house prices is met with either cries of ecstasy or moans of despair.

sounds about right as my guess - one of the most sensible liquid people I knew went and blew it with a 50% share (mortgaged of course) with a mate in an East London apartment in 2006. It is amazing the people who got sucked up in this sh*t.

Having said that, in an era of very very low bank interest rates and electronic banking it is both wise and simple to manages a minimu amount of money in your current account, so the OP anecdote is inconclusive overall, mind you it Is consistent.

Edited by Si1

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  • 259 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
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      • up 5%



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