Family Spending Report: 10 ways people spent their money last year

A fruit machine

British households have spent their money in some surprising ways in the last year, official figures show.

Households in the UK spent £489 on average each week in 2012, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) annual Family Spending Report. The highest spend was on housing, fuel and power, followed by transport and recreation and culture.

But there are more surprising ways people spent their money.

1. More was spent on gambling in the average British household each week than going to the cinema, concerts, theme parks, museums and the theatre combined. On average £3.20 was spent on gambling each week compared with the £2.60 spent on all of the others. This is an increase of 50p on 2011.

2. People in the North East of England actually made money from gambling in 2012. Households "won" an average £4 a week with an outlay of just £3.50. Every single other part of the UK lost money on gambling and the North East's result is most easily explainable by a small group of very large winners skewing results.Northern Ireland lost the most money gambling, with households forking out £4.10 a week but winning just £1.50 on average. In the report, gambling included betting at bookmakers, the lotteries, the football pools and bingo.

3. Households are saving more. On average £4.70 was set aside last year compared to £4.30 in 2011. More money was saved by households in the South West of England than any other area of the country. They put £8.10 aside each week compared to the £5.60 put away by the average British household. Welsh people saved the least, putting aside £3.40.

4. Boozing at home cost households more than drinking in bars, pubs and clubs. The average weekly spend on alcohol consumed in the home was £7.80, while £7.40 was spent on alcohol consumed outside the home. The amount spent drinking at home was 50p more a week than in 2011. Households spent exactly the same drinking out. When it comes to having a tipple on the sofa, most money was spent on wine, £3.60, followed by beer and lager, £1.70.

5. Cakes, buns and biscuits ate up more cash each week than fresh fruit. Households spent £3.60 on sweet stuff and £3.20 on fresh fruit. In 2011 households spent £3.40 and £3.10 respectively. People in Northern Ireland spent the most on cakes and the like, £4.10, while people in the North East spent the least, £2.90. When chocolate and other confectionery is added on, the average households spent £6.00 a week on sweet treats. The average spend on fresh vegetables was £4.20, up by 20p on the previous year.

6. Households where the head is aged 50-64 spent the most on alcohol and tobacco. When it came to drinking alcohol at home, they forked out £10.10 a week. (This is almost double the amount spent when the head of a household was under 30, which was £5.10.) They also spent the most on alcohol outside of the home, forking out £9.40 a week. In addition they spent the most on cigarettes and other tobacco products, £6.20.

7. Households in the South West of England spent the most on their pets, £5.90 a week, followed by those in the East Midlands, £5.70. People across the UK spent £4.60 a week on them. That is more than the average household spent each week on takeaways to eat at home, £4.20, hairdressing and beauty treatments, £3.50, and buying garden equipment and plants, £2.30.

8. Londoners spent the most on telephone services, which included mobile phone costs. Households in the capital spent £13.20 a week, while households in Scotland and Wales spent the least, £9.30. The average British household spent £10.10 a week. Those aged 30-49 spent the most, £12.40 followed by under 30s who spent £11.40. On average households spent more each week on telephones in 2012 than the previous year, up from £9.80.

9. Charity is increasing while interest payments are decreasing. The interest households paid on credit cards each week fell on the previous year from £1.80 to £1.50. The money they give to charity increased from £2.60 to £2.70.

10. Northern Irish people spent the most on newspapers each week, £2.30, and households in Yorks and Humber the least, £1.40. When it came to buying magazines, households in the South West spend the most, £1.10, while those in Wales, the North East and North West spend the least, 70p. Households in London spent the most each week on books, £1.80, and those in the North East spent the least, 90p.

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