Money Advice Service issues 'social debt' warning

POSTED: 1st July 2014
IN: Personal News

The Money Advice Service has urged UK consumers to be aware of the risk of 'social debt' - financial arrears resulting from socialising.

The Money Advice Service has urged UK consumers to be aware of the risk of 'social debt' - financial arrears resulting from socialising.

According to research by the government-led group, almost half of the country's adults admit to falling into debt as a result of their social lives.

A study encompassing 3,000 people found that the average individual's social debt is £1,260. Almost three out of five respondents said they usually spend more than they plan to when seeing friends or enjoying nights out.

Three out of five consumers said they worry about appearing 'tight' or 'stingy' in front of others, and one in three thought this contributed to their overspending.

More than a third of the people taking part in the study said they simply get carried away and end up spending more than they planned.

Other findings showed that one in four consumers go out for meals they can't afford and one in five have taken a holiday or break in the past year they didn't have the money for.

These indulgences have led to a fifth of people cutting back on food shopping, while a tenth of respondents said excessive social spending had prevented them from paying utility bills.

One in three people who had tried to control their spending felt positive about being sensible, while one in five felt proud of their efforts.

Jane Symonds, a financial expert at the Money Advice Service, pointed out that most of us have spent more than planned on evenings out in the past, with something as simple as buying a few extra drinks or getting a taxi home possibly blowing a nightly budget.

She added: "I'd urge anyone in debt, due to their social spending, to take action now to avoid getting any further into the red and instead work at clearing it.

"You'd be surprised at how empowering saying 'no' can feel when you see how healthy your bank balance looks, and you can spend the money on things you really value or need."

One tip from the Money Advice Service is to use cash to pay for nights out, only taking as much as you can afford and leaving your card at home.

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