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What a waste! People fritter away £590 a year

27 November 2017

New research reveals that £30bn is wasted each year on uneaten food, clothes that are never worn, household bills and bundled TV/broadband deals

Almost three quarters (73%) of us admit to wasting money, with unworn clothes, getting stung by avoidable fees and paying over the odds for services and insurance among the everyday things people say they waste their hard-earned cash on.

On average, UK adults estimate that £49.20 of their monthly spending is wasted - £590.40 a year.

The research highlighted that much of the money people fritter away goes on food and beverages - buying more expensive but convenient, ready-prepared or takeout meals and drinks, or simply overbuying groceries which they end up ditching.

 Rank 20 common money wasters %
 1 Overbuying food that doesn’t get used/throwing away left-overs 23
 2 Buying clothes which are never worn 20
 3 Overpaying for bundled TV/phone/cable services 19
 4 Buying too many takeaway meals 16
 5 Paying for lunch and snacks at work 15
 6 Drinking bottled water instead of tap water 15
 7 Buying brand named items rather than generic goods 14
 8 Drinking takeaway coffee 13
 9 Not shopping around for the cheapest gas and electricity tariff 13
 10 Buying cigarettes and tobacco 13
 11 Spending too much down the pub/in clubs 12
 12 Eating too many ready meals 12
 13 Shopping in expensive supermarkets and convenience stores 11
 14 Buying pre-sliced/grated food 11
 15 Paying avoidable credit card interest 11
 16 Paying avoidable bank charges or overdraft fees 10
 17 Paying avoidable annual credit card fees 6
 18 Exceeding limits for mobile phone calls and/or data usage 6
 19 Buying vitamins and other supplements 6
 20 Not looking for a good deal on home insurance 5


Another key area of unnecessary expenditure people identified was overpaying for goods and services which they do use but fail to hunt around for the best prices for.  Bundled TV, phone and cable services were the top culprit in this category, which also included paying too much for utility bills and home insurance.

Service providers and insurers operate in a competitive market, typically attracting new customers with better deals than they offer to loyal customers - who can find themselves paying well over the odds for the same package.      

Commenting on the research, Georgie Frost, head of consumer affairs at GoCompare said, “The research highlights just how quickly a few pounds of unnecessary spending here and there can really add up to a serious amount of cash. This should be a real wake-up call for the almost three quarters of us who confess to simply throwing money away, as who wouldn’t love a bit of extra cash in their pocket each month? 

“Fortunately, a lot of the things identified are fairly easy to tackle. If you enjoy your morning coffee from the cafe, or going to the pub with friends then there's nothing wrong with it, but buying food you just chuck away or clothes you never wear is just a waste! So, try and take a few minutes to think about some of your everyday bad habits and make a quick list of five or six things that you could address straight away. Add up how much that could save you each month and that should encourage you to tackle a few more. Starting small can make a real difference.”        

- ENDS -

Notes to editors

*Source: ONS June 2017 - Population Estimates for UK, England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.  Source for UK adults 18 and over = 51,767,543 in June 2017.

Average annual amount of wasted spending: £590.40. 51,767,543 x £590.40 = £ 30,563,557,387.20 (rounded to £30.5bn).

**On 10 October 2017, Bilendi conducted an online survey among 2,000 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.