Image conscious Brits ignore credit crisis and take on more debt to appear wealthier to peers


News release

James Taylor
Corporate PR Manager
+44 (0) 115 934 4547 Tel Email

Image conscious Brits ignore credit crisis and take on more debt to appear wealthier to peers

Nottingham, UK, 9 April 2008 - Over a third (36%) of Britons admit to judging people based on what they wear, with many of us tempted to spend beyond our means in order to appear ‘well-off’ to our peers despite the recent credit crisis, according to new research from

The research reveals that we make ‘snap’ financial decisions about others when we meet them, with jewellery and choice of clothes the top indicators of other people’s wealth. When confronted with someone who is perceived to be wealthier than them, a third of Britons (34%) admit to spending beyond their means in order to keep up.

According to CreditExpert’s ‘Wealth Tells’ study, the top five indicators of wealth are:

·        Clothes  - the label says it all for over a third (34%) of Britons

·        Jewellery – lots of bling tells one in five (20%) Britons that you’ve got a healthy bank balance

·        Watches - expensive watches mean expensive lifestyle for over one in 10 (15%)

·        Shoes – a person’s shoes reveal a lot about them for over one in 10 (14%) Britons

·        Haircut – a good quality hair-do is all you need to impress one in 10 (11%) Britons


The research, which looks at the way we control our finances, found that the latest gadgets, such as iPods and BlackBerrys, are causing one in 10 (11%) of us to spend beyond our means in order to look good in front of friends. Other reasons to spend beyond our means include dining out in expensive restaurants and owning tailored suits.

Almost a third (31%) of Britons admit to acting differently around wealthier peers. One in 20 (5%) of Britons even feel ‘jealous’ or ‘nervous’ in front of people they perceive to be wealthier than themselves and are consequently more likely to talk up their own experiences in a bid to impress others.

The ‘Wealth Tells’ study also reveals:

·        Men are more likely than women to spend beyond their means in order to appear more ‘well-off’ to their peers, with almost one in five (18%) men getting into debt for their cars.

·        Women feel more ‘self-conscious’ than men in front of wealthier peers (15%) and are more likely to spend money on a ‘good haircut’ in order to look and feel more wealthy.

·        Two thirds (66%) of 18 – 24 year olds admit to making snap financial decisions based on what people wear or look like, compared to just over a quarter of 55 – 64 year olds (28%).

·        With age comes financial wisdom. The younger you are, the more likely you are to spend beyond your means in order to ‘keep up’ with wealthier peers – 66% of 18 – 24 year olds compared to just 36% from the 65+ age group.


Jim Hodgkins, Managing Director of explains: “The desire to keep up with friends isn’t new and there is always a temptation to use credit to do so. But using credit to fund a lifestyle you can’t really afford can lead to huge financial problems and if you don’t keep tight control of your spending and how much you’re borrowing, you can easily find you can’t afford the payments and start to fall behind with them.  If that happens, you’ll soon make yourself less financially attractive to lenders and find that you can’t get access to the best possible credit deals. With lenders reacting to the credit crunch by tightening their lending criteria, you can help stay on top of your borrowing and how well you’re managing your finances by regularly monitoring your credit report. You can do so easily by using an online monitoring service such as CreditExpert, which will tell you how much you owe on all your cards and if you’re up-to-date with your payments at the click of a button.”


For a free 30 day trial to view your credit report, go to



For further information or to request an interview, please contact:
Eleanor Moffat
, the red consultancy, T: 020 7025 6564
John Megaughin, the red consultancy, T: 020 7025 6414


Notes to Editors:
About the research:
Based on an independent online survey conducted by Canvasse Opinion from Experian on behalf of Credit Expert.  A total of 1589 responses were obtained across the UK amongst adults aged 18 and over, between 30th November – 4th December 2007.

is a subscription membership service priced at £6.99 per month, allowing unlimited online access to your credit report. The service comes with a free 30-day trial period that allows members to see and sample the service’s benefits.

CreditExpert provides UK consumers with unlimited online access to their complete Experian credit report.  This includes details of loans and revolving credit with the accounts’ repayment history going back six years, the sources of the information, records of any organisations that have accessed the report and public information such as county court judgments, bankruptcies and electoral roll entries.

Experian responds to around one million requests for credit reports from consumers every year and helps many consumers with credit-related issues, including giving assistance to the victims of identity fraud.  As the threat of identity fraud shows no signs of slowing down and the use of credit continues to grow in the UK, services like CreditExpert will become more and more important as consumers want help to manage their personal credit information and want to be alerted to changes on their credit reports that could affect their financial future.


The word 'Experian' is a registered trademark in the EU and other countries and is owned by Experian Ltd and/or its associated companies.