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The Best Friend Spend: Half Of UK Adults Worry About The Cost Of Friendship

Press release   •   Nov 18, 2014 10:56 GMT

- Half (49 per cent) of UK adults have concerns about the cost of their friendship

- In the last year UK adults spent an average £158 on gifts for their best or closest friend

- One in six (16 per cent) have used their overdraft to cover the price of a present

- Four in ten (43 per cent) of 18-34s have lied about being busy to avoid the expense of celebrating with friends

Nearly half (49 per cent) of UK adults who have spent money on gifts for their best friend have concerns about the impact of these costs on their friendship and finances, according to research from Post Office Current Account.*

On average, UK adults spent £158 over the last year on gifts for their best friend. This included £62 on Christmas presents and £47 on birthday gifts, with 13 per cent spending more than £100 on just the Christmas gift. When you consider that these basic buddy costs continue over the course of our lives, the Christmas and birthday gifts alone could add up to £6,839.** Once a close friend has children the costs can get even higher – with us spending an additional £53 annually on gifts for our best friend’s brood.

A clear majority of UK adults who spend money on their friends (70 per cent) do not save up in advance to cover the costs. One in six (16 per cent) will slip into their overdraft attempting to cover the cost of a present for a pal. As they struggle to fund their friendships, a further one in four (24 per cent) will dip into their savings, and one in ten (10 per cent) will borrow money from others.

John Willcock, Head of Current Accounts at Post Office said: “The cost of being a good friend can really add up, but most of us think it is worth it. However no friend would want you to get into debt on their behalf and sometimes we need to honest when our budgets are tight.”

Average friendship costs in the last year*
Hen/stag party £70
Engagement £62
Christmas £62
Housewarming present £54
Friends’ children’s birthday £53
Birthday £47

*Excluding those who spent nothing/didn’t buy gifts for this event in the last year

The costs of celebrating a friend’s special occasion, such as a wedding, often go beyond simply buying a gift. Attending a friend’s nuptials can be particularly expensive, once gifts, travel and accommodation are taken into account. Last year people who did attend these events spent £62 on engagement parties and presents, and £70 attending the stag or hen do***.

With these mounting expenses, it’s unsurprising that one in five of those who buy gifts for their friends (19 per cent) think these costs have stretched their finances too far. One in five (19 per cent) admit they would like to stop buying gifts for each other altogether but worry this could negatively impact their friendship.

More than a quarter of adults across the UK (28 per cent) have lied about being able to attend a friend’s event because they couldn’t afford the cost of the celebration, with this figure increasing to 43 per cent for those aged 18 – 34. A quarter (23 per cent) of this age group who spend on their friends said the financial strain of gifts had put the friendship itself under pressure.

John Willcock continued: “Whatever your preferred tactic for managing the cost of a friend, Post Office has a range of current accounts which allow customers the flexibility necessary to manage their money effectively.”


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