Workers waste £948 a year on coffee and snacks

A coffee every day

A typical adult in the UK spends £948 a year on ‘invisible’ items, a new study has revealed.

The research, commissioned by investment and retirement solutions provider Aviva, found that, on average, an adult spends £18.23 a week o n items such as takeout coffees, shop-bought lunches and post-work drinks.

Over a year, this adds up to £947.96 and over a working lifetime of 50 years, this mounts up to a whopping £47,398 a person – and that’s before inflation is taken into account.

Aviva’s survey of 2,000 working adults between the ages of 18 and 68 looked at their spending on snacks such a chocolate bars, fruit and crisps; shop-bought lunches, shop-bought drinks, treats for children, newspapers and magazines, alcoholic drinks bought at lunch or after work, cigarettes and takeaway food.

Young people were the worst offenders, with workers aged 18 to 24 typically spending £21.17. Aviva points out that a 20-year-old could build a pension pot of £136,000 if they were to save this money rather than spend it, assuming conservative returns.

On a positive note, 70% of those surveyed were keen to change their ways, though their focus was on saving money in the short term. More than a third (35%) said they would put their money in a standard savings account, while a similar number (34%) would leave the money in their current account. Though 14% would put the money saved in a piggy bank, only 5% would invest it in a pension.

Rodney Prezeau, consumer platform managing director for Aviva, said: “When we buy a coffee or a snack, we often don’t give it a second thought but it’s incredible how small change can really stack up over time. Our study found that 26% of people don’t really keep track of their spending at all, and a further 22% only keep an eye on larger purchases, so many of us may be surprised if we actually look at where our money is going.

“It’s interesting that most people say they’d be willing to cut back in order to save, but most people are focused on the short term. We’d encourage people to also think about how small savings can be utilised in the long term, for example in a pension or in an investment Isa. As our calculations show, even small amounts can make a big difference.”