Household spending: Our tips on watching the pennies

Money 2018-5-21
Income vs expenditure.jpg

Household spending is on the up, so we’re bringing you some top tips on cutting costs on those everyday essentials

Our latest analysis has revealed that 2017’s household expenditure saw the biggest year-on-year increase for 10 years. The average weekly household spending in 2017 was 3.9% higher than in 2016, whilst individual weekly spending rose by 3.5% [1].

To put these increases into context, they translate to a £21 jump from £533 to £554 in weekly household expenditure, and £7 from £226 to £233 per individual – the biggest increases we’ve seen year-on-year since 2007 [1].

What about income?

To make things worse, our report also found that average weekly income has seen little to no improvement each month since December 2016.

In March 2017, average weekly earnings were just 0.2% higher than the same period in the previous year, and the newest Wages and Salary Survey from ONS (Office of National Statistics) shows no difference as of March 2018.

Looking at the figures paints a clear picture: average weekly expenditure per person has seen a 3% increase since 2007 [1], whilst average weekly earnings have in fact fallen from £503 as of March 2008, to £489 in March 2018 [3].

Income vs expenditure

So where are we spending?

Breaking consumer spend down by category for the past ten years, we can clearly see which areas have seen the most significant increases and decreases.

The top five are:

  1. Clothing and footwear – 27% increase
  2. Recreation and culture – 22% increase
  3. Communication – 18% increase
  4. Household Goods and Services - 8% increase
  5. Miscellaneous goods and services (personal care and products, accessories, childcare products and services) – 2% increase

 Expenditure categories

Stop spending, start saving

Clothing and footwear – 27% increase since 2007

Rather than going straight for the high street shelves, consider browsing the rails in your nearest vintage store or charity shop, where you can often bag a real bargain.

If this isn’t up your street, try sites like Depop or ASOS Marketplace to find independent creators who often sell their clothing at a much lower price than you would see in the shops – and if independent clothing isn’t your thing, you’ll often find designer brands on these sites too.

Recreation and culture – 22% increase since 2007

When it comes to your TV, consider what your current package is and just how much value you’re getting out of it. If you find that you hardly touch the surface of the channels you have available, think about contacting your provider to see if there are any cheaper packages that suit you better, or switch to Freeview to save even more.

Communication – 18% increase since 2007

Most of us now will have a contract with our mobile phone provider, and many people accept the tariff with minimal shopping around. With a bit of careful research, there is potential for big savings in this category. Use independent comparison sites, as these will often have exclusive deals and discounts that you may not get directly from the manufacturer. Also consider whether a SIM-only contract would suit your needs better. Although these contracts will often involve a higher up-front cost to buy the handset, you’ll save a considerable amount over the duration of the contract, particularly if you can keep your handset in good working order for several years.

Household Goods and Services - 8% increase since 2007

The old saying “make do and mend” is worth keeping in mind when it comes to saving money on household goods and services. Before throwing out old or tired furniture and paying for brand-new replacements, consider if you may be able to upcycle or renovate it. There are countless tutorials online from reupholstering a chair, to giving your drawers a fresh lick of paint.

If DIY isn’t your bag and the furniture is in relatively good condition, think about putting it on a selling site to make a little extra cash to put towards your new purchase.

Miscellaneous goods and services – 2% increase

When it comes to toiletries and/or make up, there is money to be saved by ditching the brand loyalty, as well as buying in bulk. Shop around for deals and savings on different make up brands and you’ll soon see the savings add up. On toiletries, consider switching to own brand goods, or buy the largest size available, which will work out as less per money per use.

And with holiday season coming up, be sure to do your research when it comes to which sun creams are best. Last year, many of the big name brand we know and love were revealed to be less than ideal when it came to sun protection, with many of the cheaper, own brand alternatives living up to their labels instead.


  1. ONS “Family Spending in the UK” reports
  2. Components of household expenditure, UK: Table A1
  3. ONS “Earnings and Working Hours”
  4. Hitachi Personal Finance lending data, 2014 - 2017
Hitachi Hints and Tips is intended to be informative and interesting. It does not constitute financial advice, and you should always do further research when making any financial decisions. All information was correct at date of publication.


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