We are £8.63 a week ‘cash happier’ than last year (and should spend it on bowling to be even happier)
- Annual ‘Cash Happy’ research of 3,000 UK households shows strong link between happiness and how much ‘spare cash’ we have
- We’re slightly happier than a year ago... and we have an extra £8.63 each in spare cash each week than last year (bringing the weekly total spare cash per person to £44)
- People living alone have the least spare cash, couples have the most
- To be one of the UK’s happiest people you only need to find an extra £3.50 spare cash a day
- Spending spare cash on bowling shown to give happiness a further boost
- The latest research from SunLife reveals that we have £44 spare cash each week – a rise of almost a quarter from last year – which means we are all a little bit happier1.
Cash Happy is an annual report which studies the day to day finances of more than 3,000 UK households. In its first Cash Happy report in 2015, SunLife proved a strong link between happiness1 and how much ‘spare cash’ we have, i.e. the money we have to spend however we want each month, after our regular outgoings are paid for.
Cash Happy 2016 has now revealed that on average, UK households have £102 in spare cash each week, which is just shy of £20 more than last year (£8.63 per person2), an increase of 24%. And because the amount of spare cash we have is linked to happiness, that means we are happier about our future than in 2015 too.
How to be happy
To be amongst the happiest 10% of households in the UK, the Cash Happy research found that households need £158 spare cash each week, which per person is £69. That means households only need to find an extra £56 a week, to be amongst the happiest in the country – on an individual level that is just £25 a week or £3.50 a day!
It also means that this year, it is easier to be in amongst the top 10% happiest households in the country, as last year we needed £60 extra:
|Average spare cash per week||Top 10% spare cash per week||Difference|
|Per household||Per person||Per household||Per person||Per household||Per person|
Biggest winners and losers
While overall, spare cash has gone up by £20 per household, it has not been the same story for everyone.
In fact, the 18-24s have enjoyed an increase of almost 100%, taking their weekly spare cash up by £24 per person a week from £25 in 2015 to £49 today. In comparison, the 45-54s have seen a much more modest rise of £5 a week (14%) which means they are the age-group with the least spare cash.
|Spare cash per week||Total||18-24||25-34||18-34||35-44||45-54||55-70|
|2015 (per person)||£35.62||£24.78||£37.83||£32.71||£39.43||£35.82||£35.82|
|2016 (per person)||£44.25||£48.86||£50.47||£49.67||£46.46||£40.73||£41.34|
|Difference (per person)||£9||£24||£13||£17||£7||£5||£6|
While men have considerably more spare cash per week than women - £55 compared to £37- women have seen theirs rise more - up 37% (£10) on last year’s figure of £27 while men’s has risen by 20% from £46.
Looking at life stage, those with the most spare cash are people cohabiting, who have £199 per household (£87 each) a week in spare cash - a rise of 22% a week on last year.
Although young families don’t have as much spare cash as cohabiters - £145 a week per family – they have seen a bigger rise of 46% (£46) on last year.
The biggest losers in terms of actual spare cash are people who live alone – they have just £44 per person per week – but in terms of an increase, they are the winners – this is up 76% on last year’s figure of £25.
|Spare cash per week||Total||Male||Female||Single Lives Alone||Co-habiting with partner||Young family||Older family||Empty nester|
|2015 (per person)||£35.62||£46.25||£26.79||£24.92||£71.24||£43.04||£50.07||£60.60|
|2016 (per person)||£44.25||£55.49||£36.72||£43.85||£86.69||£63.01||£44.25||£52.07|
|Difference (per person)||£9||£0||£10||£19||£15||£20||£6||£9|
Older families and empty nesters have been hit the hardest in terms of spare cash – both households have actually seen a drop, with older families £13 a week worse off - a 12% drop on last year’s figure of £115 - and empty nesters have seen their weekly spare cash drop 14% from £139 to £120.
In terms of region, people in the East Midlands have seen a huge increase - up from £47 per week per household in 2015 to £112 in 2016, a rise of 138%. In contrast, people in Wales have only seen a modest increase of 5% but the biggest losers are households in East Anglia who have actually seen their spare cash drop by 25% from £97 to £73 a week. Households in the South West have also seen a drop, but not as significant, just 2%.
|Spare cash per week||Total||North East||North West||Yorks & Humberside||East Midlands||West Midlands||East Anglia||Greater London||South East||South West||Wales||Scotland||Northern Ireland|
|2015 (per person)||£35.62||£34.35||£33.91||£36.96||£20.43||£38.70||£42.17||£23.04||£39.13||£41.30||£35.22||£44.78||£24.78|
|2016 (per person)||£44.25||£50.00||£50.00||£46.10||£48.70||£43.00||£31.70||£43.90||£44.30||£40.40||£37.40||£52.20||£35.20|
|Difference (per person)||£9||£15.60||£16.09||£9.13||£28.26||£4.35||-£10.40||£20.87||£5.22||-£0.87||£2.17||£7.39||£10.43|
What should we spend our extra money on to be happy?
According to the research, more than half UK households would save at least some of their spare £20 while more than a third would spend it on clothes. Cash Happy also looks at what type of spending makes us happiest; overwhelmingly, the study reveals that happier households spend their spare money on experiences rather than material things, with bowling the top choice for happy spending!
What we would do with the money
- (% that would)
- Save it (54%)
- Clothing (35%)
- Days out (32%)
- Cinema (31%)
- Eating out (30%)
- Pubs/social clubs (26%)
- Takeaways (20%)
- Sports/hobbies (11%)
- Theatre (11%)
- Music events (11%)
What we should do with the money
(happiness scale between 1 and 10, average is 6.64) 1
- Bowling (7.22)
- Going to the theatre (7.08)
- Sports/hobbies (6.99)
- Eating out (6.99)
- Days out (6.95)
- Music events (6.93)
- Newspapers and magazines (6.91)
- Going to the cinema (6.91)
- Saving the money (6.89)
- Clothing (6.8)
8 things you could do with your spare cash
So with this in mind, SunLife has found 8 things you could do with your spare £8.63 to make you happy. All of these are available for under £8.63:
Ian Atkinson, marketing manager at SunLife said: “It is great to see that households in the UK are ‘Cash Happier’ than last year with £102 in spare cash each week – that’s £20 more than last year. That means we have £44 each – that’s £8.63 more ‘spare cash’ per person than we had last year.
“We can also see that you don’t need to be a millionaire for money to buy you happiness. To be amongst the happiest in the UK, we need £158 per week in spare cash, which means we only need to find an extra £8 a day, which per person is just £3.50 – to be amongst the UK’s happiest.
“Just by cutting out a takeaway coffee you can save around £2 a day, so becoming one of the most cash happy in the country could be much easier than we might think.”
1. To calculate happiness, respondents were asked the following three questions and asked to scale them between 1 and 10, with 1 being not at all satisfied/happy and 10 being extremely satisfied/happy:
- All things considered, how satisfied are you with your life as a whole nowadays?
- How happy did you feel yesterday?
- Thinking forward to the next 5 years or so, how happy do you feel about your future?
The results were then averaged, to give an overall happiness index scaled from 1 to 10. In 2015, average happiness was 6.63, in 2016 it is 6.64