Middle-aged 'victims of youth culture' fritter away their cash

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The Independent Online

Middle-aged people are far more likely to be frivolous with their money than those aged between 25 and 34, a study published today reveals.

Middle-aged people are far more likely to be frivolous with their money than those aged between 25 and 34, a study published today reveals.

They are more likely to fritter away their cash on non-essential items, such as magazines and snacks, and to regard beauty treatments, grooming, weekend breaks and holidays as necessities.

The middle-aged - defined as those aged between 55 and 64 - are the group most likely to spend a spare £40 on clothes, with 70 per cent saying they would do so - far more than any other age group.

The study of nearly 800 people was conducted by the market research company NOP for Barclays Bank.

David Lewis, a consumer psychologist, said: "We've become victims of youth culture. Fifty-year-olds talk about feeling like 21-year-olds and there is this pervasive attitude that to consider retirement and worry about the future is to give in to old age. If ... weekend breaks, gym membership and tumble dryers are considered essential to our happiness, then we must assume that today's luxuries - having a gardener, cleaner and nanny - could well become the necessities of tomorrow."

Every day, according to the survey, Britons spend more than £137m on non-essential items, but a third have made no provision for the future. Men are more likely to buy trivial items. They spend £76m daily, with 13 per cent spending more than £9 a day on such goods.

Financial experts said that the danger for many people who have adopted the attitude of living life to the full was poverty in later life.

The findings show that Britons carry around more than £219m in cash on any given ordinary day. More than half say they are prone to making impulse purchases even though they try to be careful.

The research also shows that yesterday's luxuries have become today's necessities. More than half of those interviewed, 59 per cent, said they could not live without frequent weekend breaks and holidays; 48 per cent believe that eating out regularly is a necessity, and more than a quarter feel the same way about their gym memberships.

Nearly three-quarters, 72 per cent, of men said they enjoyed life to the full, as did 67 per cent of women. Only 10 per cent of men and 13 per cent of women spent any time worrying about the future.

Bob Dench, a managing director of Barclays, said most people were in denial aboutthe future.

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