My bumper birthday bill

12 November 2010
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 This month, most of my salary has been spent on train tickets. Why? I’ve booked to go to Nottingham, Southend and Liverpool. The occasion? For friends’ birthdays.

Not that I’m moaning about the weekends themselves. I love going away for a few days and escaping the smoke and smog of London. But when did birthdays become so excessive?

My parents’ generation had a small family do and maybe a few pints in the local. When I was younger, a birthday party was inviting five mates over for a Barcardi Breezer and a Tesco pizza.

As we’ve got older, birthdays get dragged over weeks and weekends and increasingly require you to dig deeper and deeper into your pockets. Even my own recent coming-of-age involved two meals out, drinks and a party – something I’d expect my friends to fund for themselves.

It’s just the latest fad in our ever-depressing consumer culture. Each birthday has to be bigger and better than the last, which means trips up and down the country (although, I can’t lie, it’s good fun).

Recent statistics from insurance company Bright Grey estimate that we spend, on average, an extra £360 a month over our monthly salary. We’re clearly living the life of our dreams, rather than our means – something I can definitely attest to with the various drinks evenings, dinners and trips abroad that I try and manage on a low income.

Maybe it’s just me getting old. Either way, I don’t mind dipping into my hard earned cash to spend a weekend away for my friend’s birthday – just as long as a weekend in Nottingham doesn’t become a week in Greece in a few years’ time.

What do you think? Do you spend too much money servicing your friends’ birthdays? Let us know.