Brits shell out £3,146 on unexpected bills

Brits shell out £3,146 each on out-of-the-blue bills over the course of a lifetime, according to a new study by online lender MyJar. And on average, their most recent unexpected bill or payment set them back £485.

Wiped out by white goods

Many of the top 30 most common unexpected payments are for absolute necessities with a washing machine or dishwasher breaking down topping the list, followed by being landed with a parking ticket. A computer packing-up, damage to a car and boilers breaking also feature on the list.

And more than a quarter of British consumers have had to pay out for unanticipated overdraft fees or a pet getting injured or becoming unwell.

On average, respondents think that they encounter three unexpected payments per year, and six in 10 reported that money they’d had to use to cover them had already been earmarked for something else. And 25 per cent said that if an unexpected bill of up to £500 came in, they would struggle to pay it.

How we pay unexpected bills

To dig themselves out of an unexpected financial hole, Brits are most likely to dip into savings, borrow from family members or sell something of value.

And sometimes, we’re in the position of lending, rather than borrowing. Respondents reckon that in total, they’ve lent £1,800 to friends and family, with 50 per cent saying they’ve been asked in the past.

Four in 10 respondents also admit that an unexpected bill or payment has left them struggling to pay for other necessities like electricity and gas.

This research highlights the importance of aiming to build up an emergency fund in an instant access savings’ account to the value of three to six months’ bills.

Top 30 most unexpected payments

  1. Washing machine/dishwasher dying
  2. Parking ticket
  3. Computer packing up
  4. Boiler packing up
  5. Damaged car
  6. Dental surgery
  7. Overdraft fees
  8. Pet getting injured/unwell
  9. TV breaking
  10. Speeding ticket
  11. Fridge breaking
  12. Leak in bathroom
  13. Accidentally signing a subscription and not cancelling before renewal
  14. Leak in the roof
  15. Having to pay for your kids to go on a school trip
  16. Having to buy a new car because yours is past it
  17. Phone screen smashed
  18. Smashed window
  19. An unexpected tax bill
  20. Having to buy clothes for the kids out of the blue (because they’ve grown or ruined clothing)
  21. Huge phone bill (landline)
  22. Needing to buy a suit for a special occasion
  23. Property stolen
  24. Mobile phone bill after a trip abroad
  25. Emergency anniversary/birthday/valentines gift after forgetting the date
  26. Having to travel long distance out of the blue
  27. Luggage too heavy at airport
  28. Paying for medical procedures
  29. Needing to buy school equipment for children
  30. Dropping mobile phone in the toilet