There is almost no conceivable situation in which a pay raise doesn’t sound nice. Unless Effie Trinket says “here’s a 15% annual raise and by the way, welcome to the Hunger Games,” most people would jump at the opportunity to have a little extra dough in their bank accounts. In fact, there are almost definitely people who would happily take the raise, even under those circumstances.
But our neighbors across the pond have bad news: The UK’s Direct Line Life Insurance did some research, and it turns out a raise isn’t going to mean as much to you as you think it will. For more than half of the UK workers analyzed, the extra padding they got was absorbed in as little as three months.
“Analysis shows UK employees, who have received a pay rise within the last five years, take on average just six weeks to ‘level up’ their spending habits after receiving a salary increase, with one in six (17%) upgrading their lifestyle immediately,” a press release for the company reads.
So what are these Brits using their additional income for, you may ask? Well, the answer isn’t quite as sexy as you might think.
One of those new luxuries is a lunchtime upgrade — employees who have gotten recent raises can afford a semi-artisanal sandwich from Pret A Manger now, research found. Brits also tend to waste away their newfound riches on expensive booze, and really, who can blame them?
Then, there are the money savvy people who are thinking about the future. 71% saved up their additional income for a rainy day, or perhaps for retirement.
It’s surprising how quickly we adapt — 19% of people said “they wouldn’t be able to cope financially if their income level was reduced to the level it was before their pay rise,” according to the press release. I suppose once you get something, it’s hard to have it taken away.
And so the biggest lesson from this research is that once we get that oft hoped for pay raise, we should probably think about what we do with it before we become one of those lunch and booze statistics. And if we do indeed get that extra 15%, we have to hang onto it as if we’re in the hunger games, protecting it with our lives.