The key to being happy is, apparently, having someone to come home to at the end of each day. While the average UK happiness score is 6.6, people who live alone score just 6.2. However, this isn’t down to emotional reasons. Instead it’s all about the money.
According to SunLife’s Cash Happy report, even though a link exists between happiness and how much people earn, there is a stronger link between happiness and how much spare cash people have.
The SunLife report, which focused on data from 3,000 UK households, found the average UK household has an income of £2,083 a month. This leaves £102 a week in spare cash once all expenses are paid for.
People who live alone earn more than half of the average UK household income at £1,242 a month, but they have much less spare cash left each week – just £44. This is considerably less than so-called empty nesters (people whose children have grown up and left home), who have £60 spare each a week and couples who have around £100.
The reason for the significant difference in spare cash is because there are certain costs associated with running a house that bear little relation to the number of people living in it. People who live alone spend 61% of their income on housing, finance and bills; 12% on things they consider “important”, not essential; and 27% on things that make them happy.
Meanwhile, people who live in a two-person household spend 50% on housing finance and bills; and 9% on optional spending, which leaves them with 41% to spend as they wish.
This lack of spare cash is affecting the happiness of people who live alone.
Furthermore, the report found that people who do not go on holiday at least once a year have a happiness score of 5.9/10. Single people, on average, go on holiday 2.1 times a year, while empty nesters get away 2.5 times a year.
Ian Atkinson, head of brand at SunLife said: “Obviously there are lots of factors that affect our happiness, but we know that money is an important one, particularly how much ‘spare cash’ we have rather than how much we earn.”
What can people do?
It’s not all doom and gloom, though, as the study also found that there are a number of other financial considerations linked to happiness that people are more in control of.
For example, people who budget are 7% happier than those who don’t. Just a simple spreadsheet detailing income and outgoings, and getting the balance right between the two, can add happiness to someone’s life.
The study found that savings levels also make a difference, with 89% of happy people having savings and 60% of less happy people not. This is presumably because the individuals with savings have a financial safety net safeguarding them, or at least lessening the impact, of a sudden expense.
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