Struggling with mortgage repayments? Tackling bloodcurdlingly high credit ratings? Overwhelmed by exponentially growing energy prices? Count yourself amongst the majority of Britons wallowing in a cesspool of debt. Itís because we invest too much in pleasure and too little in prudence, according to a recent survey that found half of all adults blame the costly demands of their social lives for their empty pockets.
Average ësocial debtí stands at £1260, according to government run body, Money Advice Service (MAS), with the majority of the sample saying they overspend on social occasions.
People living in London were found to have the biggest typical social spending-related debt, at £1,570, followed by those living in the North East, at £1,454.
In Scotland, the average figure was £1,013, in Northern Ireland it was £1,052 and Wales it was £1,151.
MASí data depicts a sobering reality, showing people are typically around £341 a year just to avoid appearing ëstingyí.
ëFear of appearing tight or stingy is fuelling overspendingí: said MAS. Two thirds of people say that they splurge more on a round of drinks than they get back from others and a third of people add that they lose money when the bill is split at a restaurant. This can be attributed to a lack of self-discipline amongst revellers resulting in over-extravagant, financially unfounded gestures of generosity.
However, it is not only lavish nightlife habits that are rooting people in the red. According to the survey, one in six conceded that they purchase holidays that they cannot viably afford.
ìIndividuals need to learn to say no to drinks, meals and holidays that break their budgetî, said MAS money guru Jane Symonds.
Symonds goes on to plead with those in debt to shackle their vices and commit to clearing their debt immediately. The freedom of a ëhealthy bank balanceí feels ëempoweringí and enables you to re-define your definition of a necessity, in turn re-shaping your thinking of what is and isnít valuable for the better.
Of course there exists a need to reciprocate to a wealthy friendís lavishly bountiful spending. However, friendship is an enduring phenomenon and any person who scorns at your floundering financial position is not worth knowing in the long term at all. Peer pressure is combatable through strength of conviction and no shortage of self-discipline.
ëDark side of Consumerismí
This urge to spend and ëkeep up with the Kardashiansí so to speak Is an intrinsic part of human nature, according to an unrelated report by Nick Chater, professor of behavioural science at Warwick Business School. His findings imply that humans make judgements instinctively according to comparison with one another.
ìComparing and competing can have positive outcomes, such as wanting to be healthier or obtain a better education,î said Chater.
“But for many consumer goods, keeping up with the Joneses may be all we care about. If we all spend more on weddings, fast cars, or designer handbags, then, in comparative terms, no one feels any happier. This raises the danger that such spending is self-defeating, from the point of view of a society as a whole.”