We all have our luxuries - the things we wouldn't want to do without, no matter how tight our finances are. And why not? After all, life would be boring if we only worked to pay the bills.
And in spite of the financial problems facing many families across the UK, we're spending more on the things we enjoy the most, according to research by LV=.
Last year the average UK household spent £6,194 on the top ten 'luxury essentials'. That's up from £5,850 last year - a 3.2% increase, compared with a 1.5% average pay rise in that time.
In other words, people are spending money on luxuries faster than incomes are rising. It seems that the occasional treat is becoming more and more important to people in the UK.
Mark Jones, LV= Head of Protection, said: "The need to get away from it all is important to people when economic times are hard, which explains why holidays and weekend breaks remain the lifestyle aspect that most people are most unwilling to do without. It is no surprise that people are trying to 'keep calm and carry on', and making cutbacks in other areas to maintain the little luxuries in their life."
It seems we're cutting back on the things we actually need, to make more room for the things we enjoy. 32% of people questioned said they've started taking food into work instead of buying it on the day, while 11% now bring their own tea or coffee, and 16% grow their own fruit and veg to save money.
Holidays and weekend breaks topped the list of 'lifestyle essentials', with 44% making sure they get away from it all every year. Meals in restaurants closely followed (27%), with TV subscriptions (22%), haircuts (18%) and nights out on the town (18%) also ranking highly.
Luxury spending can be good for you!
Unless your finances are really stretched, there's absolutely no reason why you shouldn't be able to spend money on the occasional luxury. It's actually very important that people don't just focus on the essentials, because this can get boring and could actually lead to impulse spending.
The important thing is that people budget carefully and work out how much they can afford to spend on the things they enjoy. That way, you'll know your essentials are always covered. Not everyone feels comfortable planning their finances, but there are actually services that can help people do this - such as the thinkmoney Personal Account, which automatically sets money aside for bills and other important payments.