13 Aug 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 Nationwide Building Society’s 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

The 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, Nationwide is 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. The Society 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. Nationwide’s research builds on findings which show more than 11 million people in the UK have less than £100 in savings3.

Procrastination = guilt

Nationwide's 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 This will open a PDF document which may open in a new window (depending on how your browser is set up) page 11.

About Nationwide

Nationwide is the world's largest building society as well as one of the largest savings providers and a top-three provider of mortgages in the UK. It is also a major provider of current accountscredit cardsISAs and personal loans. Nationwide has around 15 million customers.

Customers can manage their finances in a branch, via the mobile app, on the telephone, internet and post. The Society has around 18,000 employees. Nationwide's head office is in Swindon with administration centres based in Northampton, Bournemouth and Dunfermline. The Society also has a number of call centres across the UK.