Are you a big spender? Or are you very careful with your money?
Perhaps you fit somewhere in the middle. If so, your weekly household spending may be close to the UK average. That was a total of £585.60 in the year to March 2019, according to figures collected by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). This number includes rent but doesn’t include mortgage interest payments or council tax.
Nearly half (44%) of this weekly budget typically goes on three main categories of costs: transport, housing, and recreation and culture.
The proportion each household spends on different items will depend in part on their overall wealth. ONS found that spending on food and housing make up over two-fifths (42%) of total spending for poorer households, compared with just a quarter (26%) of spending for those in the richest 10%.
Let’s take a more detailed look at how the average weekly spend breaks down. See how you compare, and how you can reduce your spending on each of the categories.
Spending on transport averaged £80.20 per week in 2019. This included £23.20 on fuel each week. There was also the spread-out cost of buying and servicing vehicles, as well as using public transport.
This figure may well be different now as many of us are travelling less, while the price of fuel can vary quite significantly.
Here are some links to useful articles to help reduce your spending on transport:
- How to maximise your fuel efficiency (Ageas)
- Cut down on car and travel costs (Money Advice Service)
In 2019, households spent an average of £79.40 per week on housing. That includes the cost of heating and warming homes, but doesn’t include mortgages and council tax payments.
Looking in more detail, this included £24.60 each week on electricity, gas or other fuels, £7.50 on home maintenance and repair, and £8.10 on water supply.
Here are some links to helpful tips that can help you reduce your housing costs:
Recreation and culture
Households spent an average of £76.90 per week in 2019 on what the ONS calls recreation and culture, which ranges from TV and streaming subscriptions to sports and pets.
This figure may be currently lower as it includes £30.40 per week on package holidays (large costs are spread out to provide a weekly cost), and other expenditure like cinema or theatre tickets (a further £51 of the £585.60 weekly total was spent on restaurants and hotels per week).
The total includes £5.80 which is spent on pets. We’re a nation of pet-lovers and 12 million (41% of) households in the UK have pets, according to figures for 2020.
This category also accounts for TV licences and subscriptions – 40% of UK households have Netflix, for example – at £4.50 a week, and £3.20 on spending related to gardens and gardening.
Here are some useful ways to save money on pets and gardening:
- Seven questions to ask yourself before getting a dog (Ageas)
- How to save money gardening (Money Advice Service)
Food and drink
Feeding a family can be costly and, on average, 10% of households’ weekly spend, or £61.90, goes on food and non-alcoholic drinks. That’s alongside another £9.10 each week on alcohol.
Of the average food spend, £6.60 is spent on meat. Fresh fruit and veg can be pricey too, coming in at £4.10 and £4.40 respectively each week. Even chocolate adds £2.10 to the average weekly household budget.
If you want to save money on your food shop, here are some helpful links:
Clothing and footwear
Keeping your family well-dressed can also add up. If your household is about average, then you may spend around £19.10 each week on clothing and £5.30 on footwear. If you have a young family, that cost can rise substantially as children grow out of their clothes all too quickly.
For help on how to save money on clothing, try these links:
The remainder of the £585.60 average weekly spend ranges from phone bills to medicine prescriptions. It all adds up.
If you’re trying to identify savings, having a good idea of how much you spend each week is the best place to start. Then you can start finding ways to spend a little less and save a little more.