The UK wastes a whopping £17.6 billion a year by letting money leach away on takeaways, snacks, coffees, ready meals and items and services which aren’t used – that’s an average of £360 of unnecessary spending per person, per year. New research commissioned by Gocompare.com Money identified takeaway food and drink as key areas where people felt they waste or ‘leak’ money.  Underused TV subscriptions, failure to shop around for cheaper deals on utility bills and insurances, as well as paying avoidable bank and credit card charges were all included in the nation’s list of the top 20 money leaks:

Rank Top 20 money leaks %
1 Takeaway meals 25%
2 Paying for lunch or snacks while at work 21%
3 Satellite TV subscriptions for channels hardly watched 19%
4 Paying over the odds for utility bills by not shopping around for the cheapest tariff 18%
5 Buying expensive takeaway coffee 18%
6 Buying too many ready meals 16%
7 Spending too much at the pub or club 14%
8 Cigarettes and tobacco 14%
9 Mobile phone contract 14%
10 Paying avoidable bank or overdraft charges 12%
11 Paying avoidable credit card charges 11%
12 Paying too much for home insurance by not shopping around for the best deal 10%
13 Paying too much for car insurance by not shopping around for the best deal 8%
14 Netflix or similar subscription 8%
15 Paying fees at cash-tills to withdraw cash 7%
16 Paying avoidable credit card annual fees 7%
17 Unwanted magazine subscriptions 6%
18 Gym membership which is hardly used 6%
19 Subscriptions for apps that are hardly used 6%
20 Amazon Prime membership 5%

Matt Sanders, head of money at Gocompare.com, commented, “The odd couple of pounds spent here and there on a coffee or a sandwich to eat at your desk may not seem extravagant  but, over time, lots of little money leaks can add up to a sizeable drain on your finances. Failing to shop around for the best deals on utility bills and home and car insurance also made the list of the nation’s top 20 money wasters. Insurers and energy providers compete for new customers so there are always attractive deals on the market for those who take the time to look – with potential savings running into the £100s.”

“An area where many of those surveyed felt they were wasting money was on subscriptions and memberships that they no-longer use or want.  A quick and simple way to help plug these leaks is to get into the habit of regularly reviewing your bank and credit card statements, giving you a better idea of what regular payments are being made from your account.  This will prompt you to think about whether you still need the things you are paying for, or whether you could cancel them.”

“Avoidable bank, overdraft and credit charges were also areas where people said they wasted money and again, a little forward planning can help you avoid unnecessary fees.  There are subtle differences in the charges applied for agreed and unauthorised overdrafts, so even if you don’t think you’ll need to use it on a regular basis, it’s wise to have a pre-arranged over-draft limit with your bank.”