While the stars watch their wallets, Brits borrow heavily to ‘live the dream’

A Paris holiday on the cheap

Heiress Paris Hilton is probably the last person most Brits would look to for money saving tips. Indeed, the socialite has grown famous through her love of luxury and extravagant tastes, which have even led to recent rumours that she is to buy a cheetah to keep as a pet.

However, on a recent trip to Liverpool with her boyfriend’s band, Paris was seen checking into a two-star hotel, where the rooms cost just £45 a night, for which the loved-up couple also got access to the Dug Out sports bar and a free breakfast thrown in.

Of course, Miss Hilton’s family connections and celebrity endorsements mean she can afford to stay any place she pleases and it is believed she just bedded down in the Lord Nelson Hotel to please her boyfriend. However, her short-lived holiday frugality is a lesson which many holidaying Brits would do well to heed if they don’t want to be paying off their week in the sun for the remainder of the year.

Even on holiday, it pays to watch the pennies

Indeed, it often seems like it is those who are least able to afford it who splash out on their much-deserved time away and get themselves into trouble when they get home. For all his property-development wealth, former Prime Minister Tony Blair was never one to turn down a free holiday, whether it be a week crashing at Cliff Richard’s Caribbean pad or relaxing at Silvio Berlusconi’s Italian Villa. Likewise, it seems a safe bet that Richard Branson is inundated with requests from friends and acquaintances looking to stay on his Nectar Island for free.

The point is, it pays to set out a budget for some time away – whether this is nothing at all or £1,000 – and stick to it, as there’s nothing worse than being still having to pay off a holiday debt long after having returned to the daily grind back home, as many people sadly do.

Brits breaking the bank to fund celebrity lifestyle

Sadly, new research shows that a worryingly high number of Brits are taking the exact opposite approach to Miss Hilton, both at home and abroad.

Rather than slumming it, they are choosing to live above their means and opting to get seriously into the red so as to live a lifestyle which is beyond their means, if only for a week or two a year.

According to CreditExpert.co.uk, 34 per cent of people admit to spending money they haven’t actually got to keep up with their peers, with one in ten of those questioned said that they borrow so that they can have the latest gadgets or eat out regularly.

What’s more, from a people who were always keen to ‘keep up with the Joneses’, it now seems we have become preoccupied with ‘keeping up with the Jolie-Pitts’ as impressive cars and designer clothes were also reason enough for us to put our personal finances in jeopardy. As Jim Hodgkins, managing director of firm explains: "The desire to keep up with friends isn’t new and there is always a temptation to use credit to do so."

"But using credit to fund a lifestyle you can’t really afford can lead to huge financial problems and if you don’t keep tight control of your spending and how much you’re borrowing, you can easily find you can’t afford the payments and start to fall behind with them."

For even if Paris Hilton buys one yacht too many and ends up maxing out on her credit card, she has plenty of rich friends and relative who could bail her out until she gets a lucrative new contract, and how many people can say that?

Sure, rolling up to a party on public transport may not be as much fun or as attention-grabbing as hiring a stretch limo, but when it means that a repossession van could soon be on its way round, the benefits of accepting one’s own financial standing in life and sticking to a budget are all too clear.

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