Average family faces £1,800 unexpected expenses a year
The average family has faced £1,800 of unforeseen payments in the past year, according to research from M&S Money.
These related to their children, home, car and personal finances, and often could put those without savings in the red.
The research, conducted amongst 2,000 UK adults, revealed that if a family faced more than one unforeseen cost in the same month, such as a tax bill and a school trip, this would take family outgoings over the average monthly household surplus of £892.
The most common expense faced by UK households is to pay for an unforeseen car repair bill; more than half (52 per cent) have had to pay for this over the past 12 months at an average cost of £268. The most costly expense Britons have faced over the past 12 months is to be invited to a wedding abroad - six per cent of households have had to pay an average £950 for this unplanned for cost.
Brits Raiding Savings to pay for Rainy Day Expenses
UK households tend to need to dip into their savings most frequently to cover the cost of the larger unexpected expenses. For example, 28 per cent of those with solicitor's fees (£894) have had to dip into their savings to pay.
However, while families are able to draw upon their monthly surplus income for smaller unplanned costs, such as children's hobbies (79 per cent at £131) and car insurance excess (78 per cent at £293), it does mean they are less able to save to build up a contingency fund to pay for the larger items when they occur.
Paul Stokes, head of savings at M&S Money, said: "While many household budgets are already stretched it is important for families to plan ahead and save what they can to ensure they're in the best position should any unexpected expenses arise. The old saying ‘it never rains but it pours' can often be true when it comes to unexpected costs.
"Contingency savings should be kept in an easy access savings account to ensure the money can be withdrawn quickly should you need it."
Counting the Cost of Children's Expenses
The average spend on unanticipated costs relating to children is £134; the most common is a child's school trip, incurred by 40 per cent of parents and costing an average of £71.
Parents in the 35-44 age group are most likely to incur unplanned costs, including 68 per cent who had to pay for a school trip, 36 per cent who paid for a school residential trip and 31 per cent who faced medical treatment costs for their child, together costing an average of £470.
Women Shoulder the Burden
Over the past year, women faced more unforeseen expenses than men - perhaps a reflection of who holds the family purse strings. This is true of all payments relating to children, for example the cost of sports and hobbies (39 per cent compared with 30 per cent).
The exception to this is payments involving the house, where more men than women footed the bill, including roof repairs (16 per cent compared with 10 per cent) and new security measures (12 per cent compared with 10 per cent).