The cost of tomorrow: UK households spend £1m by age 50, and will still spend a further £893,500 across their lifetime

10 February 2017
  • Average household will spend the equivalent of £1.9m in today’s money over a lifetime
  • First £1m spent by age 50, with £893,500 spent in later life; £420,500 of this in retirement (65+)
  • Top quartile earning households will spend 47% more than average, a total of £2.8m over a lifetime. One in sixteen will enjoy a £1m retirement
  • Pre-retirees (45-65) underestimate their future spending in retirement by £100,000
  • Average household will need to find an annual retirement income of £14,100 over and above the state pension to sustain spending levels in early retirement; £30,900 for high earning households 

The typical UK household spends a staggering £1.9m over the course of a lifetime, according to a new report ‘The Cost of Tomorrow’ from leading financial planning and investment management group Tilney. Tilney’s analysis of Office of National Statistics (ONS) data found that the average adult will hit the £1m household spending milestone at the age of 50, and still face the prospect of £893,500 of spending in later life. Almost half of this, £420,500, will be incurred during retirement (65+). But pre-retirees, aged 45 to 65, are underestimating retirement spending by £100,000, exposing the pressure their savings and investments may come under in later life. 

Spending patterns over a lifetime

Housing takes up a steadily smaller share of the household budget over time. A third of under 30s’ outgoings are devoted to keeping a roof over their heads, compared to a little over a quarter among over 65s. On the other hand, having fun makes up a sparing one fifth of under 30s’ spending, but will rise to a quarter for 65-74s’. 

Spending before 50

By the time the average person reaches 50, their household has just spent its first £1m in today’s prices. A third of this will have been spent on housing costs, while holidays, restaurants and entertainment will have cost them £203,000. At the same stage in life, the wealthiest quarter is halfway through their £2.8m total, with much higher spending on leisure activities (£342,000). 

Spending in retirement

From 65 onwards, when income from work diminishes, the top quarter of UK earners can still expect to spend £683,000 as a household; 63% more than the £420,500 average. The pattern of this spending is also radically different. 

A typical retired household spends £99,500 on having fun, with £41,000 on holidays, £36,000 on entertainment and £22,000 on restaurants; a third (£141,000) keeps a roof over their heads. For the wealthiest 25%, only a quarter is spent on housing (£192,000), with far more (£182,000) on having fun, of which a remarkable £74,000 will be on holidays. 

One in sixteen households, those that have made the greatest financial provision for later life, can anticipate £1m of outgoings in retirement. For this wealthiest 6%, their £410,000 spending on entertainment, holidays, restaurants and cars roughly equals the average retired household’s entire lifetime budget. 

Aspiration vs. Reality

The vast majority of over 45 year olds believe they will either improve (36%) or maintain (48%) living standards in retirement, but Tilney’s evidence shows they are underestimating their retirement budget by almost £100,000. They expect to spend £16,456 per year, a total of £325,800, but will actually spend £420,500. 

While this shortfall shows that retirees spend more than most people might expect to when they retire, it is also a red flag that people may not be putting enough aside for their later years. An average household will spend £26,500 every year between 65 and 75, and will need access to a post-tax income of £14,100 over and above the combined state pension of £12,407 to sustain these spending levels. For wealthier households, the annual spend in today’s money for the first 10 years of retirement is £43,300, leaving a significant post-tax and state pension income shortfall of £30,900.

Andy Cowan, Head of Financial Planning at Tilney said: “The sums we spend over our lifetimes when quantified in today’s prices seem mind-bogglingly large, and yet they reflect the reality of life in Britain today. The top quarter of households splash nearly £3m in total, much of which is when they are no longer working and can really enjoy the fruits of their labours. But while some of today’s retirees are in a position to enjoy recreation and achieve their desired lifestyle, those coming behind face significant pressures on retirement income and much greater uncertainty because of the demise of traditional, predictable final salary pensions, and must overcome a number of hurdles if they want to ensure they can live with financial security in their own retirement.

“The key to enjoying a comfortable or even prosperous lifestyle in later life when you are no longer earning is, of course, to plan ahead and to start investing as early as possible. People set expectations for their living standards in retirement during their peak earning years in their 50s, and this is the time when most ramp up saving, but it is also important to invest it in the right places and minimise the burden of tax. Taking advice on how to do this effectively is vital to ensure our aspirations can be realised.”

To view the report in full, please click here.

About Tilney

Tilney is a leading investment and financial planning group that builds on a heritage of more than 180 years.  Our clients are private investors, charities and professional intermediaries who trust us with over £23 billion of their assets. We offer a range of services including financial planning, investment management and advice and, through our Bestinvest service, a leading online platform for those who prefer to manage their own investments.

We have won numerous awards. Tilney has been awarded Best Conventional Advisory Service at the 2018 City of London Wealth Management Awards, Best Advisory Service in the 2015 City of London Wealth Management Awards; Investment Award – Cautious category in the Private Asset Management Awards; and Stockbroker of the Year, Execution-only Stockbroker of the Year and Self-select ISA Provider of the Year 2015, as voted by readers of the Financial Times and Investors Chronicle. Bestinvest was voted Best SIPP Provider and Best Fund Platform at the 2017 City of London Wealth Management Awards, Best Direct SIPP Provider at the Awards 2017, Best Stocks & Shares ISA Provider at the 2017 Shares Awards, as well as Best Self Select ISA Provider, Best Online/Execution-only Stockbroker and Best Investment Platform 2017 at the FT and Investors Chronicle Investment and Wealth Management Awards, as voted by readers of the FT and Investors Chronicle.

Headquartered in Mayfair, London, the Tilney Group employs over 1,000 staff across our network of 30 offices, enabling us to support clients with a local service throughout the UK.