Spending time with friends is one of life’s pleasures whether nattering on the phone, chatting over a plate of food or shouting over the top of loud music in a bar to celebrate a big birthday. An active social life, however, can take its toll on our bank accounts – even if we look back on it as money well spent.
It’s the little things – the daily phone calls and the catch-up drinks out – that really add up although celebrating the big events such as milestone birthdays and wedding days can also leave us with a definite financial hangover. All in, our friends cost us a total of £185,690 over our lifetimes. It’s no wonder that Scrooge didn’t have any friends!
Staying in touch - £65,565
Hardly a day goes past when we’re not ringing, texting or emailing our friends. This adds up to, an average of £970 a year, according to TalkTalk including data roaming charges, buying and replacing handsets, insurance and accessories.
During our lifetime we’ll spend £16,235 on mobile phone bills with £12,414 on home broadband and £11,228 on fixed line rental – not to mention an average of £5000 on replacing our handsets. The total bill over the years therefore comes in at £65,565.
Cut the cost
Make sure you’re on the right package for your mobile phone needs as three quarters of us waste around £200 a year on paying for texts and free minutes that we never use. You can often trade down tariffs once you’re hallways through your contract although you can trade up at any time.
There is an ever-changing array of broadband and phone packages on the market so always shop around for the best value deal which suits your needs. However, it’s not just about price; you also need to check broadband connection reliability, data limits and broadband speed.
Buying rounds - £52,500
Meeting up with friends for drinks can often leave your bank account feeling a bit sore the next day. We buy an average of 1.8 rounds on a night out with each round costing an average of £13, market research group Onepoll says. On average we head out three times a month to pubs and bars, forking out £70 a month on drinking.
However, nearly a quarter of men go out twice a week and buy bigger rounds, splashing out £200 a month on booze. Overall this adds up to £840 a year or £52,500 over an adult lifetime.
The old gripes about buying rounds still ring true with two thirds of us buying drinks for people we don’t really know and almost three quarters getting annoyed when drinking partners start ordering more expensive drinks after having bought their own round.
Of course, you don’t have to buy rounds. And if money’s tight you can still see friends while buying your own drinks.
Celebrations - £31,250
We like a good excuse for a party through from baby showers to 40th birthdays. We spend an average of £500 a year on four milestone celebrations according to NS&I Savings with the money going on gifts, travel, accommodation, food and drink. Over an adult lifetime this all adds up to £31,250.
Cut the cost
Many of us don’t want to turn down social invitations but if it’s going to send you spiralling into debt it’s better to be selective about which events you attend and be honest with friends as to why you can’t go to something.
Decide how much you can afford to spend beforehand and only take cash out with you so you’re not tempted to whip out the credit card after a couple of drinks. Sharing transport and accommodation costs with friends and jointly buying presents often works out cheaper than going it alone.
Dinner parties - £22,500
Even if we’re not quite in the same league as Nigella or Jamie when it comes to rustling up gastronomic delights, that doesn’t stop us from having friends round six times a year. Each feast costs £60 to host, according to a survey from cooking ingredients brand Very Lazy, adding up to £360 a year or £22,500 over the course of a lifetime.
Around a third of hosts believe that the best way to impress their guests is to splash out on expensive ingredients, food brand DeviliShh says. Home cooks are also most likely to cheat on making dessert themselves with Tiramsu the most popular shop bought choice.
Cut the cost
Choose recipes based on ingredients you already have the cupboards and you use on a regular basis. Spending a fortune on spices and exotic ingredients you’ll only use once doesn’t mean the meal will turn out any better.
Most people will turn up with wine or drinks but you can also ask them to bring dessert or a side dish which fits in the theme of your main course if you need to keep the cost down.
Weddings - £7,500
Watching friends tie the knot can bring a tear to our eye – out of happiness or despair at the cost.
Firstly, there’s the last night of freedom to celebrate with a night – or longer –of revelry costing an average of £106 for women and £206 for men, according to Teletext Holidays largely thanks to the large amounts of cash spent on alcohol. London, Brighton and Marbella are the top destinations, according to the Redseven Annual Hen and Stag Report 2012.
Then, with a new outfit setting us back an average of £80, a wedding present costing £75, travel and accommodation coming in at £125 and £80 on drinks at the reception, we’ve actually forked out more than the average monthly mortgage payment.
The total bill for going to someone else’s big day comes in at an average of £510. Given that the average person attends 15 weddings in their lifetime, according to research from Debenhams, that’s a total of £7,500. It’s not surprising therefore that 1.6 million people go into debt in order to attend a wedding, CreditExpert.co.uk says.
Cut the cost
Advance planning can often get you the best rates on accommodation and train fares – and allow you to save up by cutting back on other nights out.
Presents come in many different forms – if you’re a great baker, hairdresser or photographer you can offer your skills for the big day instead of simply buying expensive Egyptian cotton sheets from the gift list.
Lending money - £6,375
We’ve all covered the cost of drinks, taxi fares and tips when our friends have suddenly found themselves without any cash. This costs us around £102 a year, according to credit card company Capital One. Over an adult lifetime, this comes in at £6,375.
The majority of us would give a friend up to £5 without expecting to be paid back, according to vouchercodes.co.uk with a quarter of people handing over up to £10 with no strings attached.
However, O2 Money says that almost half of us lent money to someone last year but half of those are still yet to be repaid. This is partly due to an unwillingness to ask for the money back as well as laziness.
Research from UK bank Aldermore found we have lent an average of £254 to friends or family which we are too lazy to chase up.
Cut the cost
If you’re collecting money from lots of people websites such as Payumi.com can help. This will send out emails to remind your friends when the money’s owed and allows them to pay by credit or debit card and PayPal.
If you’ve got friends who frequently ask to borrow money and never repay it, try coming to an arrangement whereby they’ll babysit, help with DIY or feed a pet when you’re away in lieu of their ‘debts’.
A friend in need
While things aren’t always financially equal in every friendship, you get a lot back as well as spending money – and it’s only when you find yourself in trouble and a friend rushes to your aid that you realise that, despite the cost, you’re a lot better off with them than without them. Even Scrooge was forced to admit that in the end.