Half of workers regret post pay-day purchases

24th November 2023

Over half (52%) of UK workers say they always or occasionally feel regret about what they’ve spent their salary on just one week after payday, with half (50%) of non-essential spend going towards dining out (50%), followed by clothes shopping (48%), takeaways (42%), hobbies and activities (39%), socialising (34%), and subscriptions (32%).

New research from Standard Life, part of Phoenix Group, reveals that among those who feel regret for spending on non-essential items the first week after payday, one in five (21%) say it causes them stress and anxiety. A further 19% say it causes them to run out of money by the end of the month, and over one in ten (12%) say it means they can’t afford some essentials, while others regret this spend because they say it could have been spent on something else (32%), or because they feel it wasn’t a good use of money (27%).

When examining overall spending habits on non-essential items during the first week after payday, men are more likely to spend on nights out in comparison to women (39% vs. 28%), and on gadgets (19% vs. 7%). On the other hand, women are more likely to put their money towards clothes (57% vs. 40%), takeaways (46% vs. 39%), and beauty treatments (29% vs. 8%).

While men and women spend nearly the same percentage of their pay on non-essential items (15% each respectively), women are slightly more likely to regret this spending in the week after payday in comparison to men (55% vs. 49%).

Claire Altman, Managing Director for Individual Retirement at Standard Life said: “As we navigate a tough economic landscape, it is easy to understand why UK workers are increasingly dealing with feelings of regret, anxiety, and stress when it comes to spending money on non-essential things after payday. While it’s clearly important that people spend money on what makes them happy, improved education on the benefits of long-term saving is essential to ensure people make informed decisions that give them certainty and security about the future.”

“The benefits of financial security cannot be underestimated during this unpredictable time, and annuities can act as a similar regular payday long after you’ve retired, providing peace of mind through a regular guaranteed income that lasts as long as you do. Furthermore, by getting advice or guidance to help combine an annuity with other retirement income solutions like drawdown can give people the best of both worlds. This can provide both security and certainty knowing you have enough to cover your essential costs, while also keeping money invested and flexible, to help cover any non-essential spending.”

The top ten non-essential things UK workers spend their money on during the first week after payday:

Type of non-essential spend

Percentage of people (who say they spend on non-essential items)

  1. Eating out


  1. Clothes


  1. Take-aways


  1. Hobbies / activities


  1. Nights out / socialising


  1. Subscriptions


  1. Gifts


  1. Trips away


  1. Beauty treatments


  1. Gadgets