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The true cost of happy birthdays

The true cost of happy birthdays

Category: Money

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

We are all keen to help our friends and loved ones have the happiest of birthdays, but this can come at a cost - especially when it comes to milestone years. Research from American Express has revealed that Brits spend an average of £857 per year on celebrating others' birthdays, with the figure rising by nearly 50% for milestones.

Since today marks the most popular day to be born over the last two decades (according to data from the ONS), there's every chance you have recently needed to shop for a birthday present and/or have a birthday party coming up. American Express' survey results show that people will on average spend £36.61 on a gift, while also splurging £41.33 on the party itself.

This can quickly add up; as people have on average 11 close friends or family members whose birthday they celebrate per year, the annual total comes to £857. And this amount is only going up, with 18% of present buyers stating they are planning to spend an average of £117 more on gifts over the next 12 months. The main reason for nearly a third of respondents (32%) to do so is because they want to 'treat their friends and family'.

The survey further revealed that people are happy to splash out more on milestone birthdays (such as 18, 21 and 50), with the average cost increasing by nearly 50%. This translates to a typical spend of £59.01 on milestone gifts, and £57.13 on the celebration itself, which would result in a total of £1,278 if all your family members and close friends were to have milestones in a single year.

This may seem like an intimidating amount, but there are things you can do to prepare your bank account for future birthday-drains. One of the simplest ways to pre-empt birthday spending is by agreeing on a budget beforehand. You may even be able to agree with some people to save up until their next milestone birthday, for instance in a designated long-term savings account, so you can get them the big present of their dreams in a few years' time, instead of a small present every year.

If you're one of the many people for whom birthdays seem to creep up unexpectedly, thereby making it hard to plan or save in advance, a 0% purchase credit card may be the solution for you, as it would allow you to spread out the payment of last-minute presents after the fact. If you already have a credit card, check whether it has cashback or reward points; you may already have enough to get a birthday present simply from these benefits.

Not sure what to get? Local, out-of-the-way shops can be the perfect places to find presents that are sure to be unique, and you can feel good about helping an independent business owner in the process. If even these don't inspire you, consider giving your loved one an experience. Allowing them to do something they've never done before is a sure-fire way to ensure that they will remember your present for a long time to come – and if you buy them two tickets/passes, you may even get to come along.

What next?

Compare savings accounts and build up a birthday fund

Check out the top credit cards to find the best deal for you

Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.