The Impact of Unexpected Costs in the UK

The curveball of an unexpected cost can put strain on even the most organised of finances. From urgent house repairs to dental treatment and surprise vet bills, you never know when you’re going to need to fork out extra funds. But how do Brits react to unexpected costs, and do they feel prepared to deal with them when they arise?

Well, with these questions in mind, we conducted a survey asking 2,000 Brits about their experiences. We enquired about how much they had saved for when surprise costs arise, as well as how confident (or worried) they are about having to deal with them.

We also asked about who they turn to in the event of an unexpected bill, as well as how much money they are typically parting with.

The results were then analysed and compiled into comparison tables to give us a picture of the impact of unexpected costs across the UK. So, without further ado, let’s dive into the results!

Visualisation of The impact of unexpected costs in the UK

Do Brits have savings to cover unexpected costs?

When it comes to unexpected costs, having a dedicated savings pot can be a game changer. But how confident are Brits that they can comfortably cover a surprise bill with their savings?

Well, 44% of those we asked were fairly confident in their savings, and 29% were very confident. However, just under a quarter of Brits are either not very confident (14%) or not confident at all (9%) about having reserve funds.

We found variations by age and location too. For instance, for people aged 65 and over, 41% expressed confidence, whereas in the 18-24 category, only 15% were very confident in their savings.

When it comes to location, there’s more disparity: 18% of those we asked in Yorkshire and the Humber stated they were not very confident, whereas 46% of those in the East Midlands expressed they were fairly confident in their savings.

Are Brits worried about the effects of unexpected costs?

Knowing funds are there to tide you over can give you all-important peace of mind in an emergency. But how worried is the average Brit about the effects of surprise costs on their savings?

Well, almost two thirds of those surveyed admitted to being fairly worried (43%) or very worried (17%) about the potential implication of no-notice bills and unexpected costs. However, on the other end of the scale, 24% said they were not very worried, and 10% of participants expressed they felt no worry at all.

In the 55-64 age group, 37% of those we asked claimed they were fairly worried, and 56% of 25-34-year-olds said so too. Geographically, of the people we asked from London, 54% said they were fairly worried, along with 60% of those from Northern Ireland.

So, while a fair few Brits show little to no worry, it’s clear that others are concerned about the effects of unexpected costs.

Who do Brits rely on when an unexpected cost arises?

When an unexpected cost arises, and you don’t have the funds to cover it, it can be difficult to know where to turn.

We found that 34% of our participants turn to a parent as their first port of call, while 33% rely on a partner or spouse to help them. Alternatively, 15% of our participants would ask a friend, and 9% would rely on a grandparent.

23% of people chose ‘none of the above’, suggesting they’d turn to alternative solutions to cover costs, and a further 14% said they were unsure.

Answers differed by gender and location too. For instance, 36% of females and 34% of males said they’d rely on a parent. Equally, 37% of those we asked from Scotland, and 45% of those from London said they’d ask a parent too!

How much money are Brits really parting with?

Some unexpected costs are fairly minimal, while others have a more significant financial impact. So, let’s delve into how much Brits are having to part with when an unexpected cost arises.

School uniform

When it comes to surprise school uniform costs, the average people have to fork out is around £124.78. Delving deeper into the data, 83% of those in East England said they paid between £100-£149 – though, 18% of our London participants paid between £150-£199.


For unexpected pet costs, the average spend is £171.44 – including 19% of 18–24-year-olds who are paying between £150-£199. Of those we asked in London, 20% said they paid the same, which is a fairly significant chunk if you aren’t expecting it!


When it comes to fines, Brits are paying an average of £116.09 each time. And for car repairs it’s even more; with people forking out upwards of £479.09. By age, around 28% of the people aged 18-24 pay £250-£499, but 9% of 55–64-year-olds have paid a whopping £1000 or more!

Home repairs

For unexpected home repairs, the average cost is £562.10 – but this certainly isn’t the limit. In fact, 15% of over 65s have previously paid more than £1000, proving just how important it is to have a stash of cash at the ready.


Finally, while 25% of 18–25-year-olds said they haven’t encountered an unexpected dental cost, the overall average for the everyday Brit comes to around £365.33. And 14% of the 33-44 age group said they paid more, coming in at £500-£749!

Well, there we have it, the impact of unexpected costs across the UK. While some Brits seem prepared, others are clearly more concerned about the impact of surprise costs on their finances.

While we can’t necessarily predict surprise costs, we can prepare for them by starting a dedicated savings pot. So, if you haven’t already, now might be the perfect time to start one and do something your future self will thank you for.

In the meantime, for more insights, head over to the Moneyboat blog where you’ll find guides on how much you can save in a year , as well as simple ways to save money!


A survey of 2,000 UK adults was conducted, centred around questions surrounding unexpected costs and the impact these have on personal finances. The results of the survey were then analysed and compiled into comparison tables to best express the data that was gathered.

Blog Disclaimer

We do all we can to bring you interesting, practical and valuable information. However, please understand the following:

  • are in no way connected or affiliated with the application or affiliate links mentioned in this or any article. We do not receive any commission and are not responsible for any charges that may result from any free trials or paid subscriptions.
  • does not provide medical advice It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, seek medical advice immediately or dial 999.
  • Information and data on this blog are for information purposes only. While we work hard to ensure it is accurate, we cannot accept responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, suitability or validity of any information provided on the blog. We will not be liable for any errors, omissions, losses, injuries or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided with no warranties and confers no rights.

If you feel that any of the information published on our blog is not accurate, please notify us via email at

Representative Example: Borrow £400 for 4 months, 4 monthly repayments of £149.37. Total repayment £597.48, interest rate p.a. (fixed) 255.5%. Representative APR 939.5%.Compare Moneyboat loans.

Warning: Late repayments can cause you serious money problems. For help, go to