Fear of seeming 'stingy' means debt

Fears about appearing "stingy" in front of friends and family are helping to plunge people into over £1,000 worth of debt which is purely related to their social lives, research by a Government-backed body has found.

People are getting into debt because they are worried about seeming stingy, research found
People are getting into debt because they are worried about seeming stingy, research found

Nearly half (48%) of people surveyed by the Money Advice Service (MAS) admitted to falling into debt because of their social habits, with the average amount of "social debt" put at £1,260.

The MAS estimates from its findings that people are typically spending £341 a year just to avoid looking "tight" or "stingy".

One third (32%) of the 3,000 people surveyed from across the UK admitted this concern helped to drive them towards over-spending while out socialising.

One quarter (25%) of people said they go out for meals that they cannot really afford because they do not like to say "no" to a night out.

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.

The MAS, an independent body set up by Government to offer money tips, said the fears about social stigma could be well-founded, with 35% of those surveyed thinking that people who fail to get their round of drinks in at the pub are stingy and over a third (34%) feeling they are rude.

But those who do over-spend socially often face an unpleasant financial hangover, with one in five (20%) saying they had been forced to cut back on food as a result, and one in 11 (9%) not being able to pay their utility bills.

Jayne Symonds, a money expert at MAS, said: "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 how empowering saying 'no' can feel when you see how healthy your bank balance looks."