Brits hoarding £30 billion worth of frivolous purchases

Brits are hoarding a staggering £30 BILLION worth of useless purchases - many which remain unused, according to new research.

A study of 2,000 people shows the average house contains £1,120.53 worth of items such as sandwich toasters, shoes which only match one outfit and ice cream makers.

Other forgotten purchases include water filters, crockery bought for ‘best’ and exercise bikes.

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Almost half of adults admit their extravagant spending means they often buy things they don’t need when shopping, just because the items are close to the till.

In addition to the larger items, three quarters of Brits are frittering cash on purchases they don’t need on a daily basis, from takeaway coffees to nail varnishes.

These unnecessary spends cost around £32.66 a month, leaving people almost £400 out of pocket every year, money which they could be saving instead of wasting.

The study also revealed snacks we don’t want but can’t resist, special offers on food and sale items we can’t refuse are the top three impulse spends.

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A quarter of those polled admit to regularly wasting our money on scratch cards, clothes we only wear once and impulse sweets when queuing at checkouts.

People are also guilty of buying shoes which don’t fit properly and clothes which then sit in the wardrobe unworn - with no intention of returning the items.

Make-up, flowers for the house, pre-chopped vegetables and magazines all appear in the top 20 list of unnecessary purchases.

Being a sucker for a bargain, being easily swayed and food shopping when we’re hungry are the top triggers for these pointless purchases.

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One in five respondents admit to blowing their money just because they have spare income, while one in 10 forget what they already own.

And despite 80 per cent of people regretting these wasted spends, only five per cent will always take them back for a refund.

One in five couples have fallen out over wild purchases, while a third of people admit their partner has criticised them for their spending habits.

When it comes to spending money wisely, four out of 10 people would prefer to put their wasted spends into a savings account, while a quarter would prefer to invest the cash in home improvements.

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And nearly half of those polled said that if they had the choice, they’d rather save that money for a holiday.

Kris Brewster, Head of Products for Skipton Building Society, who commissioned the research, said:

“It’s surprising to see how much all of these little, everyday expenses can add up to, and how avoidable they can be. And if we’re honest, those ‘one-off’ bigger purchases are probably much more regular than we think as we sleepwalk into spending our money.

“It’s important that people stop and make the time to pause and think about their finances, considering how their spending habits big and small could have an impact on their personal savings. Without taking this time, we can all be led into to wasting money, just because bargains look too good to refuse!”


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1.Snacks you don’t really want but can’t resist the temptation

2.Special offers on food

3.Sale items you just can’t refuse

4.Impulse checkout sweets when queuing

5.Buying clothes you only wear once

6.Scratch cards

7.Buying clothes which then sit in the wardrobe, without being worn once

8.Lottery tickets

9.Lunch out instead of taking a packed lunch to work

10.Takeaway tea and coffee

11.Flowers for the house

12.Buying pre-chopped vegetables because you’re too lazy to cut your own

13.Nail varnishes when you have 20+ pots at home


15.Useless kitchen gadgets

16.Magazines you don’t end up reading

17.Brand new notebooks even though you have several unused at home

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18.Vitamin pills which you only remember to take for a couple of days

19.Shoes which don’t fit properly and you can’t be bothered to take back

20.Paying for subscription TV and then only watching a couple of channels


1.Sandwich toaster

2.Shoes to match an outfit you’ll only wear once

3.Bread maker

4.Smoothie maker

5.Slow cooker

6.Exercise bike

7.Crockery / cutlery for ‘best’ which you don’t end up using

8.Ice cream maker

9.An expensive face cream in response to an article online

10.Mobile phone upgrade

11.A water filter you haven’t time to re-fill

12.Designer handbag

13.New watch

14.Games console




18.New television

19.Remote control car

20.Surround sound


1. Give up the daily coffee

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Ditching the daily takeaway coffee habit could save a surprising amount over the course of a year. Giving up a £3-a-day coffee could save around £700 a year. Invest in a half-decent coffee machine and make coffee at home for pennies instead.

2. Skip the odd takeaway or meal out

Save a few pounds (cash and weight) and break out the cookbooks rather than takeaway menus. Cutting back on one £25 takeaway or meal out a month will save £300 over the year, as well as being good for your waistline. Plus, it’s a well-known fact that homemade food tastes better than anything you buy.

3. Downgrade your phone contract

With contracts for the latest flagship phones easily costing £50 or more a month in many cases, trading down to a much cheaper SIM-only deal can save a small fortune. By shopping around, you may be able to shave off £35 or more from your monthly bill. Over the course of a year, that could add up to £420.

4. Slash that massive pay TV package

Are you paying for satellite or cable TV channels or a package that you hardly use, like sports or movies? A top-of-the-range pay TV subscription can cost as much as £70 a month. Opting for a more basic package could save around £50 a month - or you could consider Freeview, which is free-to-air - and watch any big matches in the pub, saving as much as £600 a year .

5. Axe your gym membership

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How many people signed up to the gym in a bloated, post-Christmas pang of guilt, only to trail off by late January? Get your running shoes on instead, hit the local pool or join the craze for bodyweight workouts (that’s doing press-ups and sit-ups for the rest of us). You could save £300 to £600 a year .

6. Skip the night on the town

With a night out weighing in at as much as £60, giving your wallet and liver a break once in a while can be a good idea. Stay home one extra night a month and save up to £720 a year.

7. Have some patience with gadgets and games

Are you the kind of person who just has to have the latest gadget or game as soon as it comes out? Maybe you time your phone upgrades around the Apple release cycle? The price of phones, consoles and other gadgets all tend to fall quite rapidly after their initial release - so having a little patience and waiting a few months can often be a shrewd move. Depending on how many you buy a year, you could save a few hundred pounds

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