Forgotten technology, invisible savings

Starting to save money into an account can seem like a daunting task for UK adults as personal savings have halved over the last six years(1) due to the rising costs of living, such as rent and house prices. This is particularly challenging for Gen O*, who are looking to buy their first home or struggling to financially prepare for their retirement(2).

We recently carried out a survey(3) which revealed that over a quarter (26%) of people find it difficult to conserve their finances, however three quarters of those surveyed don’t have enough disposable income to spare at all. It seems impossible to save – but what if you could start with unused items stored around the home?

According to our research, there’s more than £37 billion(4) worth of unused gadgets and electrical devices around UK homes – that’s an average of £1,414 per household that could put into a savings account. Stephen Pond, MD Prevention & Services for Aviva says many of us “admit to getting tempted by the latest ‘must have’ items” and “this often means we don’t use particular devices anymore, so we put them to one side and replace them with different models.” The beginnings of a mortgage on your first home or pension fund could be sitting in the back of your cupboards and draws. We’ve put together some information to help you get started on saving.

Gadget hoarder

Our research revealed that 43% of people are saving towards electronic equipment, 57% on household appliances and 29% are buying things they want but don’t need- but what happens to the old gadgets? The table below shows the average number of unused gadgets in a UK household and typical costs associated.

Type  of gadget / device

Number of unused gadgets per typical UK household

Typical cost of each device (to nearest £)

Total value of devices (to nearest £)

Utility appliances

e.g. washing machines, driers, fridges etc.




Kitchen appliances

e.g. food mixers, smoothie makers, toastie makers etc.




Home entertainments

e.g. games consoles, speakers, CD players DVD players etc.




Lifestyle tech

e.g. hair straighteners grooming kits, razors etc.




Old phones.




Electrical tools

e.g. drills, sanders, saws etc.




Electrical gardening equipment

e.g. lawnmower, leaf blower, hedge trimmer etc.












Once you’ve dug out that old toastie-maker, or the grooming kit your partner gave you last Christmas, let’s see how you could make a few extra pounds with them.

There’s three main ways you can sell your old gadgets and appliances:

Auction Websites

These websites are great for achieving the maximum value of the gadget you’re selling. Make sure you don’t set your reserve price too high otherwise you may not sell it – remember, your sale is all down to the buyer. Never neglect the description of your item; it’s important the buyer knows exactly what they’re buying – otherwise they’ll want to return the item and you’re back to selling again. Also, don’t forget to cover the costs of sending your old gadget or appliance to the buyer, as the larger the item, the more expensive the delivery charges will be – the buyer will want it send to them quickly as well. Before starting the process of selling your old stuff, research what other people are buying your gadget for and don’t forget to compare the condition of it too.

Local Sales

This can be done in several different ways; what about putting a small advert on a notice board in your local store? You could spend an early Sunday morning at a car-boot sale and sell more than just your old gadgets, such as: old clothes, CDs, DVDs or things you don’t need anymore. Some local papers have a section so that people can put up adverts for their old belongings – there’s usually a small fee for this.

Trade-In Websites, Apps and Shops

If you want to shift an item quickly, trading in for cash is the best method. Although it guarantees an instant sale, you may end up getting paid a lot less than if you’d put it through an auction site or local advert. Make sure you compare each website or store and see how much other people have received for their gadgets and appliances.

The beginning of your new savings fund

Once you’ve gathered some money for your old items, consider putting together a long term savings plan. Think about what you’d like to save up for, for example:

  • A deposit on a new home
  • Home improvements
  • A pension fund
  • Further education for your children

Once decided, put that money away into a savings account, pension fund or talk to a financial advisor; keep adding to your fund and build it up. It’s good practice to have enough put away to cover you for at least three months’ worth of outgoings(5), in case your circumstances changed. If you have enough to cover you for six months, consider looking at how you can gain interest on that amount. With that money set aside, you’ll feel less stressed knowing that you’ve got that pot of money there.

(1) Future Foundation UK Economic Report April 2016 Edition: Economic Prospects


(3) The research was run in consultation with Future Foundation and ICM. The findings are based on 5,000 online interviews among a nationally representative sample of UK adults aged 18 and above, carried out in February 2016 and analysed during February/ March 2016.



*Gen O or the ‘Ostrich Generation’ is a term for 16-24 year olds, who have their heads in the sand about savings; they’re spending for the enjoyment of today and not for a secure financial future. 

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