Impulse buys that can cost you a pretty penny

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Britons continue to impulse-buy despite economic woes but they are failing to budget for household bills and essentials, according to new research from banking giant Santander.

The survey found that eight out of 10 Brits have made impulse purchases in the past 12 months with more than half of women (55 per cent) and 42 per cent of men admitting that their purses most regularly fell prey to food or drink not on the supermarket shopping list.

Nearly a third of women said they spontaneously spent on toiletries like make-up and perfume, and almost one in four men couldn’t resist electrical gadgets or equipment.

But as a consequence of out-of-control spending, many people surveyed said they had found themselves in financial difficulty, often left unable to pay household bills and expenses or severely in debt.

Around 16 per cent of impulse buyers, equivalent to around six million people, have on occasion been left short of cash because of these impulse purchases, and around one million people have been left unable to pay household bills or buy essentials.

Another million impulse buyers have on occasion been left in severe debt because of their expensive habit.

The findings reveal the negative knock-on consequences of impulse buying are exacerbated because millions of Britons do not manage their household finances effectively.

Almost half of people don’t budget for their water (47 per cent) or gas bill (45 per cent). Some 42 per cent of people don’t set aside money for their council tax payments, 40 per cent fail to budget for their broadband and landline bill, and 34 per cent for their electricity bill.

The research also found more than half of UK adults surveyed (55 per cent) don’t budget for rent or mortgage payments and 61 per cent don’t allocate a budget so they can pay for motoring costs such as fuel. Three-quarters of people (75 per cent) say they don’t budget a certain amount to put money into savings every month.

Carlos Palacios of Santander said: “Impulse buying is fine if you can afford it but many people are putting themselves in financial difficulty by failing to control their spending and their budgets. It is important to ensure you prioritise the essentials like household bills and make sure you can afford to cover the cost of these necessities before spending money spontaneously.

“Increasing household bills are one of the biggest causes of squeezed consumer finances so people should look at what they can do to reduce these costs.”