13 August 2019

Putting things off costs people £29,200

  • Leaving things to the last-minute costs people £449 a year or £29,200 over a lifetime

  • 63% identify as procrastinators, leaving it late to buy gifts, plan holidays and save money

  • Men procrastinate more costing them £571 a year, compared to just £325 for women

  • One in three feel guilty about not exercising, 29% feel bad about not saving money

Research1 today from our Payday Saveday campaign reveals procrastination is costing people an average of £449 each year or almost £30,000 (£29,200)2 over their lifetime.

The national poll of 2,000 adults in the UK shows that 57 per cent have been caught out financially by leaving things to the last minute and nearly two in three (63%) self-identify as procrastinators. People have paid the price – literally – mainly by leaving it late to find gifts (50%), not putting money into a savings account (38%) and last-minute holiday planning (30%).

Using technology to procrastinate

Technology has a huge part to play in us putting things off; checking phones (24%), watching television (22%) and browsing social media (20%) are the top things people do to procrastinate. However, approaching deadlines (36%) and encouragement from others (26%) snapped people out of procrastinating.

Men vs women; young vs old

The good news is that we get wiser as we get older when it comes to planning. Two in five (40%) of those aged 55 or older describe themselves as procrastinators compared to 87 per cent of 16-24s and 78 per cent of 25-34s. And, only 32 per cent of people aged 55 or older say they’ve been caught out leaving things late, compared to 71 per cent of 25 to 34-year olds.

Men typically leave things to the last minute more often, costing them an average of £571 a year, compared to just £325 per year for women.

Picking up good habits

Our research also found that saving money was the top habit that people would like to learn (35%), ahead of healthy eating (33%), exercising (32%) and getting up early (32%). Almost half (48%) of people aged 25-34 wanted to learn to save money regularly – the highest of any age group.

To encourage people to stop procrastinating and start saving a little money each month, we are launching Payday Saveday – a new campaign which aims to make payday a trigger for people to think about saving whatever amount they can afford, whatever their goal, age, dreams and no matter who they choose to save with. We will be looking at ways it can help people save more easily, from timely prompts and education to potential new services.

More than half (58%) of people said intend to put money in a savings account at least once a month. However, almost a third of people (32%) say it's not a priority for them. Almost one in ten (9%) think saving money regularly is pointless. Our research builds on findings which show more than 11 million people in the UK have less than £100 in savings3.

Procrastination = guilt

Our research found many of those questioned said that they also felt guilty about putting off activities. More than one in three people (36%) regret putting off exercising, followed by saving money (29%) and eating healthily (29%).


Activity Feel guilty about putting off
Exercising 36%
Saving money 29%
Eating healthily 29%
Visiting family 28%
Starting a diet 25%
Getting up early 22%
Visiting friends out of town 19%
Reading 13%
Recycling 12%
Taking up a new hobby 12%
Volunteering for charity 11%

Gemma Pauley, Head of Nationwide’s Payday Saveday campaign, said:

“Our research shows we are a nation of procrastinators who can often be caught out leaving things to the last minute. Many feel guilty about putting things off, especially saving money. With Payday Saveday, we want to give people who feel they can’t save anything the confidence that, with the right approach, they might be able to save a little something every month."

“You shouldn’t leave it until the end of the month. Do it at the start (as soon as you’ve been paid) even if it’s a small amount. As a building society, helping people to save is a core part of Nationwide’s purpose. And it’s not a commercial campaign for us either. We don’t mind who you save with as long as you save.”

1Research carried out by Censuswide. 2,000 people polled between 29th and 31st July 2019. Average cost per year figure calculated by asking people to identify how much they have suffered financially by leaving activities until the last minute.
2Cost of procrastination over a lifetime based on a life expectancy of 81 years, presuming a person has 65 years of financial independence (ages 16 to 81). 65 x £449 = £29,185
3Money and Pensions Service: https://www.moneyandpensionsservice.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Listening-Document.pdf page 11.

The content displayed on our recent news and articles page is for information purposes only, and is accurate at the time of publication. The information will not be maintained, and so we cannot guarantee that at any given time the information will be up to date or complete. Please verify any information you take before relying on it.

Nationwide is not responsible for the content or availability of external websites. Nationwide does not make any recommendation or endorse any advertising, products, services or other content on such external websites. Views expressed on third party websites are those of the public and unless specifically stated, are not those of Nationwide.

Most popular

You may also be interested in...

Our helpful guides

We've created a range of helpful guides to help you make better financial decisions regardless of your circumstances. Find out more about owning property, growing wealth and planning for life events.

Our products

Whether you are after a current account, a savings account or even looking for a mortgage, Nationwide has a range of great products that could help you, no matter the situation.