You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.

You don’t need to be a millionaire to be happy - just £82 spare a week!

Posted on 23 October 2017

Annual ‘Cash Happy’ research of 3,000 UK households shows strong link between happiness and how much ‘spare cash’ we have.

  • Average person has £44 spare per week; the happiest have £82
  • To be amongst the happiest in the UK we only need to find an extra fiver a day!
  • Spending our spare cash on going to the theatre and bowling gives our happiness a further boost

The latest research from SunLife reveals that, while cash and happiness are related, you don’t need to be a millionaire to be happy – just £82 spare per week.

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’ households2 have, i.e. the money left to spend however we want each month, after our regular outgoings are paid for.

And while happiness does increase with spare cash, there is a point when it starts to slow down, and it is not as high as you might think, as Ian Atkinson, Marketing Director explains:

"Our research shows a strong link between happiness and spare cash – stronger than the link between happiness and income – and the good news is, you really don’t need to be a millionaire to be happy.

"Even better news is that the happiest households3 have £194 spare per week, which per person, is £82. This means that if the average household wants to become one of the cash happiest, it doesn’t need thousands – just an extra £91 per week, which works out as less than £40 extra per person per week, or just over a fiver a day. This may sound like a lot, but when you think, buying a takeaway coffee and sandwich every day can cost around £5, it doesn’t sound quite so challenging."

Who is the ‘cash’ happiest?

Though spare cash is £447 per month in the ‘average household’, this varies hugely by household type. In absolute terms, over 50s have considerably less than under 50s, (£391 per month compared to £480) but in terms of spare cash as a percentage of their income, they actually have more (32% compared to 31%), which could be one of the reasons they are happier on the whole.

Those living with a partner have the most, both in term of absolute amount (£878) and as a percentage of net income (43%), and are therefore one of the happiest types of household.

2017 average household monthly spare cash

For some households there is no spare cash at all - one in four live beyond their means (5% between £0 and £100 in the red, and 21% more than £100 in the red each month) At the other end of the scale, 23% have between £800 and £2,000 spare each month, while 13% have more than £2,000, showing there is a huge divide between the richest and poorest households.

Based on the amount of spare cash they have left over, we have categorised UK households into six main groups: Struggling, Just About Managing (JAM), Indebtors, Comfortable, Well Off and Affluent:

2017 monthly spare cash

What should we spend our extra money on to be happy?

According to the research, when asked how we would spend any money we have left over each week, more than half of us say would save at least some of it, while more than a third would spend it on clothes.

But when we looked at what type of spending makes us happiest, we can see that the happiest households spend their spare money on experiences rather than material things, with going to the theatre or bowling the top choice for happy spending! We can also see that households with children at home are happier when they give their spare pennies to the kids!

What we would do with the spare money

Ian concludes: "Does money make us happy? Well, happiness and money are linked, that is clear, but the good news is that it is spare cash rather than income that has the greatest effect on our happiness.

"It is great to see that households in the UK are ‘Cash Happier’ than last year but even better to discover that you don’t need to be a millionaire for money to ‘buy you’ more happiness.

"To be amongst the happiest in the UK, we need to find an extra £38 per week in spare cash, that’s just over £5 a day. Find out how small cut backs can save you £100s with our savings calculator.

"And knowing that the decisions we make about how we spend that spare cash can impact our happiness even further means that achieving true cash happiness is a lot easier than you might think."

Sources
  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?
  2. 3,013 online interviews with UK adults aged between 18 and 85 able to answer questions about the household or individual finances.
    Interviews lasted 25-30 mins.
    All respondents were financial decision makers.
    All were responsible for paying bills & other household expenses.
  3. Cash Happy studies household finance – To calculate individual figures, we have divided household cash by 2.36 which is the ONS figure for adults per household. 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 is was 6.64, in 2017 it is 6.7.
  4. The happiest households are the top 10% in terms of their happiness score.

Here's the information that you need to know about who we are and the other companies that we work with in order to provide our products and services.

Who are SunLife?

Phoenix Life Limited trades as SunLife and is the provider of the Guaranteed Over 50 Plan, SunLife Insurance and the life insurance policy payment option for Funeral Plans. Phoenix Life Limited’s registered office is at 1 Wythall Green Way, Wythall, Birmingham, B47 6WG (registered in England, no. 1016269). Dignity Funerals is not authorised or regulated for this activity by either the Financial Conduct Authority or the Prudential Regulation Authority. Dignity Funerals Ltd is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors.

SunLife Limited distributes financial products and services and is a company limited by shares, registered office: 1 Wythall Green Way, Wythall, Birmingham, B47 6WG (registered in England, no. 05460862). SunLife Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and is entered on the Financial Services Register (registration no. 769427).

You can contact us by post at SunLife, PO Box 1395, Peterborough, PE2 2TR or by phone on 0800 008 6060.

If you choose to add Funeral Benefit Option to your Guaranteed Over 50 Plan the funeral services are arranged and provided by Dignity Funerals Limited. Dignity Funerals Limited is a company registered in England and Wales No. 00041598. VAT registered No. 486 6081 14. 4 King Edwards Court, King Edwards Square, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, B73 6AP. Telephone No. 0121 354 1557. Fax No. 0121 355 808. Part of Dignity plc. A British Company. Dignity is not authorised or regulated for this activity by the Financial Conduct Authority or the Prudential Regulation Authority but is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors.

Who provides the Funeral Plans?

Dignity Funerals Ltd arranges and provides the funeral services. Dignity Funerals is not authorised or regulated for this activity by either the Financial Conduct Authority or the Prudential Regulation Authority. Dignity Funerals Ltd is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors.

The life insurance policy that pays for your funeral will be provided by Phoenix Life Limited, trading as SunLife.

Who provides My Smarter (ISA)?

My Smarter (ISA) is provided by Scottish Friendly Asset Managers Limited. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Details can be found on the Financial Services register, registration No. 188832. Member of The Investment Association. Registered Office: Scottish Friendly House, 16 Blythswood Square, Glasgow G2 4HJ.

Who provides the Will writing services?

Hugh James is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA Number:303202).

The information contained on this website is based on Hugh James' understanding of the law of intestacy in England and Wales only as at April 2014. The law in Scotland and Northern Ireland is significantly different. This is for information purposes and is not intended to be legal advice.

Who provides Family Life Insurance?

SunLife Family Life Insurance is provided by Scottish Friendly Assurance Society Limited which is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Details can be found on the Financial Services register (registration number 110002). Registered Office: Scottish Friendly House, 16 Blythswood Square, Glasgow G2 4HJ. 

Who provides SunLife Pet Insurance

SunLife Pet Insurance is arranged and administered by BDML Connect Limited. BDML Connect Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (No. 309140). Registered in England and Wales Number 02785540. Registered Office: 45 Westerham Road, Bessels Green, Sevenoaks, Kent, TN13 2QB.

Who provides SunLife Home Insurance

SunLife Home Insurance is arranged and administered by BISL Limited and underwritten by a panel of insurers. BISL Limited are an intermediary authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England no. 03231094. Registered office Pegasus House, Bakewell Road, Orton Southgate, Peterborough PE2 6YS.

Who provides SunLife Car Insurance

SunLife Car Insurance is arranged and administered by BISL Limited and underwritten by a panel of insurers. BISL Limited are an intermediary authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England no. 03231094. Registered office Pegasus House, Bakewell Road, Orton Southgate, Peterborough PE2 6YS.