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Saving priorities switch as we hit ‘peak stuff’

by - 23/05/2018 in Research Twitter logo icon link Facebook logo icon link LinkedIn logo icon link

  • 74% of savers putting money aside for memorable experiences
  • The over-55s are the most likely to have hit ‘peak stuff’
  • Saving for experiences most popular among under-25s
  • Major family occasions dominate experience-driven savings goals – ahead of holidays and expensive hobbies

New research from Charter Savings Bank1 shows saving priorities are switching as nearly three-quarters of adults (74%) say they focus on putting money aside to pay for memorable life experiences rather than material products. 

As consumerism works to find new ways to separate consumers from their hard-earned cash, many people believe they have achieved a state of ‘peak stuff’, where their homes are filled with more goods, products and materials than they perhaps need.

Of these, nearly half (48%) say they have become increasingly focused on saving for events, holidays and hobbies rather than buying products, suggesting that many consumers have either hit, or are close to hitting, ‘peak stuff’. 

On average, savers set aside a quarter (23%) of their total savings to pay for life experiences.
Major family occasions, such as landmark birthdays and weddings, top the table of savers’ experience-driven savings goals, ahead of a post-retirement holiday of a lifetime and expensive hobbies.

Charter Savings Bank’s research shows it’s the over-55s who are most likely to have hit the ceiling on buying products; over half (51%) of those who have changed their saving plans say they have enough material goods to last a lifetime.  Around one in ten over-55s (11%) estimate they spend more than half of their savings on events and experiences.

The under-25s are the age group most likely to save for experiences rather than material goods (78%), and nearly two-thirds (65%) of them say the key reason for doing so is they enjoy them more. More than two out of five (41%) of twenty-somethings are saving to fund expensive hobbies.  It’s not always a choice, however, as one in four under-35s say they are saving for experiences because they can’t afford to buy expensive assets such as a house or a car.

According to the study, on average people have so far spent nearly £4,200 on life experiences, while one-in-12 (8%) have paid over £10,000.

Around half (48%) of adults are currently saving for a major life experience with an average value of £3,400, but one in 20 are setting themselves a target of over £20,000.

Paul Whitlock, Director of Savings, Charter Savings Bank, said: “Many people are realising that when they buy ‘stuff’, it usually only depreciates in value, becomes obsolete, and the memory of its purchase wanes. However, when paying for meaningful events, the anticipation of the experience provides more than just a quick rush, and the memories after the event grow ever more valuable.

“The new car soon loses its ‘new car smell’, the new phone quickly becomes last year’s model, and the latest ‘must have’ gadget promptly becomes part of the furniture. But a holiday-of-a-lifetime can provide months of pleasurable anticipation and planning, then memories and anecdotes for years to come.

“Getting in to the habit of saving regularly can help us all achieve our ambitions, whether it’s memorable experiences for those of us with a house full of things, or consumer products for those who haven’t yet reached a state of ‘peak stuff’.”

Percentage of people who have spent money on different experiences

Type of experience or event Percentage of people who have saved for or plan to save for this experience

Major family events


Post-retirement holiday of a lifetime


Expensive hobbies


Wedding anniversary


Round the world tour


Safari holiday


Attending major overseas sporting events


Extreme sports challenges


1 Consumer Intelligence conducted research among 1,040 savers on behalf of Charter Savings Bank between 1st and 2nd May 2018.

Financial Services Compensation Scheme

Financial Services Compensation Scheme

Your eligible deposits held by a UK establishment of Charter Savings Bank are protected up to a total of £85,000 by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, the UK’s deposit protection scheme. Any deposits you hold above the limit are unlikely to be covered. Please click here for further information or visit www.fscs.org.uk.