Money leaks cost the UK £17.6bn a year

23 January 2017

The UK wastes a whopping £17.6bn a year by letting money leach away on takeaways, snacks, coffees, ready meals and items and services which aren’t used - that’s an average of £360 of unnecessary spending per person, per year.

  • Gocompare.com reveals the nation’s top twenty money leaks and how to plug them;
  • Takeaway meals, snacks and coffees, failure to shop around for cheaper deals on utility bills and insurances, and paying avoidable bank and credit card charges are among the top money leaks.

The UK wastes a whopping £17.6bn a year by letting money leach away on takeaways, snacks, coffees, ready meals and items and services which aren’t used - that’s an average of £360 of unnecessary spending per person, per year.

New research** commissioned by Gocompare.com Money identified takeaway food and drink as key areas where people felt they waste or ‘leak’ money.  Underused TV subscriptions, failure to shop around for cheaper deals on utility bills and insurances, as well as paying avoidable bank and credit card charges were all included in the nation’s list of the top 20 money leaks:

Rank

Top 20 money leaks

%

1

Takeaway meals

25%

2

Paying for lunch or snacks while at work

21%

3

Satellite TV subscriptions for channels hardly watched

19%

4

Paying over the odds for utility bills by not shopping around for the cheapest tariff

18%

5

Buying expensive takeaway coffee

18%

6

Buying too many ready meals

16%

7

Spending too much at the pub or club

14%

8

Cigarettes and tobacco

14%

9

Mobile phone contract

14%

10

Paying avoidable bank or overdraft charges

12%

11

Paying avoidable credit card charges

11%

12

Paying too much for home insurance by not shopping around for the best deal

10%

13

Paying too much for car insurance by not shopping around for the best deal

8%

14

Netflix or similar subscription

8%

15

Paying fees at cash-tills to withdraw cash

7%

16

Paying avoidable credit card annual fees

7%

17

Unwanted magazine subscriptions

6%

18

Gym membership which is hardly used

6%

19

Subscriptions for apps that are hardly used

6%

20

Amazon Prime membership

5%

Matt Sanders, head of money at Gocompare.com, commented, “The odd couple of pounds spent here and there on a coffee or a sandwich to eat at your desk may not seem extravagant  but, over time, lots of little money leaks can add up to a sizeable drain on your finances.   

“Failing to shop around for the best deals on utility bills and home and car insurance also made the list of the nation’s top 20 money wasters. Insurers and energy providers compete for new customers so there are always attractive deals on the market for those who take the time to look – with potential savings running into the £100s.  Comparing energy and insurance prices has never been easier and switching to a new deal only takes a few minutes.

“An area where many of those surveyed felt they were wasting money was on subscriptions and memberships that they no-longer use or want.  A quick and simple way to help plug these leaks is to get into the habit of regularly reviewing your bank and credit card statements, giving you a better idea of what regular payments are being made from your account.  This will prompt you to think about whether you still need the things you are paying for, or whether you could cancel them.

Matt continued, “Avoidable bank, overdraft and credit charges were also areas where people said they wasted money and again, a little forward planning can help you avoid unnecessary fees.  There are subtle differences in the charges applied for agreed and unauthorised overdrafts, so even if you don’t think you’ll need to use it on a regular basis, it’s wise to have a pre-arranged over-draft limit with your bank.

Midata for current account comparison is still the only way to see just how much better off you could be by switching to an account that’s better suited to your personal banking needs.”

Visit Gocompare.com for more information on a range of money-related matters.

If you’d like to know more about the UK’s only midata current account comparison service, see our dedicated guide page.

-ENDS-

Notes to editors:

*£17.6bn figure calculated as follows: The UK adult population is estimated to be 48,913,000 (source: Annual mid-year population estimates for the UK, 2014).  On average those surveyed felt they could save £360 a year by cancelling standing orders, direct debits, subscriptions, donations and memberships for things they don’t use.  Therefore £360 x 48.9m = £17,608,680,000.

**On 1 December 2016, Bilendi conducted an online survey among 2,006 randomly selected British adults who are Maximiles UK panelists.  The margin of error-which measures sampling variability-is +/- 2.2%. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and regional data to ensure samples representative of the entire adult population of United Kingdom. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.