We all love letting off steam from time to time, but new research suggests this fun may be leaving many of us with a heavy and lingering financial hangover.
Nearly half (48%) of adults across the UK, according to a Government-backed Money Advice Service (MAS), admit to falling into debt as a direct result of their social lives, w ith the average amount being £1,260 — a sum that’s going to need more than just a glass of water and a couple of painkillers to wash away.
One of the main reasons for this huge spending on socialising is that people worry about feeling “tight” or “stingy” in front of others, while a simple lack of self control is another key reason for social debt, with 36% of those polled saying alcohol and general merriment had an impact on their better spending judgement.
Going out in big groups can also lead to awkwardness when it comes to splitting the bill, and three in 10 adults feel they lose out by paying for more than they have eaten. One quarter (26%) of those surveyed said they’ll be meticulous and divide the bill based on what everyone has eaten, but the vast majority, 59%, say they’d feel “uncomfortable” suggesting this.
Such politeness can cause huge financial headaches though, and one in five (20%) people said they’ve been forced to cut back on daily food due to their social spending, while nearly one in 10 (9%) say the debts run up through socialising have left them unable to pay utility bills.
Thankfully, there are ways you can cut back on your social spending — without losing your friends in the process.
Jenni Trent Hughes, a social psychology expert, says: “It’s really easy to be swayed by peer pressure, become carried away in the moment and spend money that the next day you wish you still had in your bank account.
“If you’re honest and clear with a friend about why you can’t afford to spend money on something and you still feel under pressure to over-spend, it’s perhaps time to have a quiet word with them or even rethink the friendship — real friends wouldn’t pressure you into doing something you really can’t afford.”
Here are some other tips to avoid spending more than planned:
* Be up-front and honest. If you can’t afford a night out or a holiday, make a firm decision and be confident about it. If you’re open and honest about your reasons, no one should think any the less of you.
* Set your budget while you’re still at home, before you set out for the night. Perhaps think about taking just cash out with you. People sometimes find they spend less when they’re handing over “real money” instead of waving their plastic.
* Finally, try not to overspend because you’ve got caught up in the moment. You could try drinking less alcohol during the evening so you don’t get too carried away — which your body may thank you for in the morning as well as your wallet.