Brits spend longer making a cup of tea than pausing to look at their finances

21st March 2017
New research from Skipton Building Society has found that the majority of us spend longer each day on making a cup of tea than we do pausing to look at our finances. Skipton Building Society interviewed 2,000 UK adults about their financial habits, highlights of the report include:
  • Three in five people (57%) spend half an hour a week or less looking at their finances
  • This equates to less than 4 minutes a day – about the same as making a cup of tea
  • More than half (56%) don’t prioritise making time to manage their finances

Around three in five (57%) spend half an hour a week or less (29 minutes) looking at their finances. This equates to less than 4 minutes a day, about the same as brushing your teeth or making a cup of tea.

The research highlights that we’re not just failing to look at our personal finances, but that few people are taking action. Just one in five (22%) say that they take the time to actively manage their money each week, be that working out budgets, paying bills, looking at their internet banking, setting up new savings or investment products or visiting a branch.

Londoners spend the longest managing their finances each week (2.52 hours). well above the national average (1.9 hours).

Over half of those surveyed (56%) say they don’t prioritise their finances at all and two in give (42%) say this is because they have other more important things going on in their lives. When asked why they don’t prioritise their finances, one quarter (23%) said they find it too boring and one in six (16%) blamed a lack of time for the reason they can’t pause to do this.

Hours spent each week Time spent daily
Cleaning the house 3 hours 52 minutes 50 minutes
Doing the weekly shop 2 hours 36 minutes 33 minutes
Commute 2 hours 77 minutes (4 hours 39 minutes for Londoners) 39 minutes
Streaming content or browsing online 11 hours 5 minutes 1 hour 57 minutes

Those aged 25-34 were the most likely to make time for their finances, with over half (51%) doing so compared to 40% of over 55s.

Skipton’s data also explores how the amount of time people spend on actively managing their finances impacts how they feel – to identify the optimal time for a ‘financial pause’ that can lead to better financial health.

The data reveals that the people most likely to feel positive about their finances are the ones who are getting under the skin of their money regularly: doing so on average 2.7 times each week, for an average of 40 minutes each time.

Those who feel most negatively are spending longer on their finances each week (174 minutes), and typically spend on average one hour each time. Just one in five of those surveyed (20%) think that their finances are in a good state, with the research highlighting that many of us fail to find the time to pause and focus.

Dr Richard Wiseman, Psychologist and Author at the University of Hertfordshire comments on the findings “The human attention span tends to be at it’s best for a maximum of 40 minutes at a time and after this point, our attention usually starts to wane. This new research from Skipton demonstrates just how difficult we tend to find long-term thinking. This is because short-term options usually give a quick emotional win, whereas longer term options, such as planning for retirement require more logical thinking, we we can find more difficult to process.

“By actively trying not to think about something, we often end up thinking about it more. Skipton’s research shows that we last thought about our plans for retirement 56 days ago so when it comes to finances and in particular looking at retirement, it would be far less stressful for people to think about it in the present, than avoiding it and spiralling into problems further down the road.”

Jacqui Bateson, Senior Propositions Manager at Skipton Building Society said “Looking at life ahead, it is sometimes hard to see beyond your next cup of tea or weekly shop. Unfortunately our research shows that we are simply not pausing to think about our finances enough. It’s understandable that we have other priorities in our lives but pausing to think now about how you will manage in later life will only benefit you in the long run. This could mean having enough money set-aside for that holiday you’ve always dreamed of or simply having enough savings to enjoy a comfortable retirement, but either way, stopping to think now will help facilitate these goals and make you feel better and more positive.”