Brits spending billions on events they would rather avoid, survey finds

Birthday parties are the obligation Brits most regret spending on, according to a survey. Source: Adi Goldstein/Unsplash

Every year, millions of Brits regret spending money on birthday parties, weddings and work drinks they don’t want to attend but can’t get out of, research suggests.

A survey of 1,000 Brits by 118 118 Money found that 17% of people spend money on financial obligations they simply can’t avoid two to three times a month. On a national scale, this represents about 8.8 million people.

Working people spend about £88.22 on each event they would rather avoid, amounting to £338.38 a year. However, one in four people spend more than £1,000 a year, totalling £3.9bn annually, the survey found.

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One in seven (15%) feel remorse about buying drinks for colleagues – although, on special occasions such as the office Christmas party, 88% are happy to treat co-workers.

It seems the younger generation feels the least enthusiastic about spending their hard-earned cash on their colleagues, with two in five of those aged 18 to 24 admitting to regret after treating their workmates, compared with one in six (15%) aged 45 to 54, and just 6.1% of those aged 55 to 64.

When it comes to work drinks, 13% of those aged 18 to 24 regret their spending. This is compared with one in five aged 35 to 44, and 21% of 55- to 64-year-olds.

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Birthday parties came out on top as the obligation people regret spending money on the most, at 38%. Weddings followed closely behind at 35%, then hen and stag parties at 24%, and family parties at 22%.

A worrying quarter of those aged 25 to 34 spend money on events they can’t avoid two to three times a week.

Those aged 65 and over, on the other hand, only spend money on events they can’t avoid a few times a year or less.

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David Goodman, chief commercial officer at 118 118 Money, said: “There can often be pressure, especially for younger people, to spend money to keep up with their peers when it comes to events and obligations.

“If a younger person is new to the workforce, they may spend more money than they can afford on presents for their colleagues or socialising to make a good first impression.

“Although it can be tempting to keep up with everyone around you, it’s wise to say no if you feel you may be struggling financially due to overspending.”