Money Wellness
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category icondebts
calendar icon12 Apr 2024

Nearly one in ten people borrow money to fund food shops, Lenvi finds

Lenvi’s recent report on buy now, pay later (BNPL) loans and products gives us insight into people’s reasons for borrowing.

Bill borrowing

The report found that many people borrow money for things you’d expect, like cars, home appliances, holidays, home renovations and technology.

But worryingly, they found that almost as many people had borrowed to pay bills (14%) and for food (12%).        

It is most common for electricity, gas and vehicle fuel and is mostly used among 18–24-year-olds and people who live in the North East.

 Lenvi also found that almost one in 10 people have borrowed money to fund a grocery shop, while over a quarter of Gen Z (28%) have borrowed to pay for food.

Reasons for borrowing money in order of popularity








Home appliances






Home renovations / Holidays / Technology















Medical / Entertainment e.g. night out / Pet incl bills / Rainy day



Baby items / Child-related activities (school trip, school fees, leisure) / Wedding



Fines / Beauty treatment / Subscription / Legal fees / Cosmetics



Luxury handbag / Bike / Driving lessons


Why are people borrowing money?

 The report found a wide range of reasons, representing between 1.2 and 1.8 million people in the UK.

Some of the reasons people borrow is because of a neurodivergent diagnosis (3%), IVF treatment and gender reassignment surgery (2%), injectables (2%) and spray tans (2%).

Commenting on the report’s findings in relation to people borrowing money for IVF treatment, Professor Geeta Nargund, Medical Director of abc IVF says: “IVF is an important medical treatment which has allowed many thousands of people the opportunity to start a family. However, due to the NHS postcode lottery, which means funding for treatment can vary depending on the region a woman or couple lives in, many find they are unable to access funding for the treatment they need. As a result, several women and couples are having to resort to self-funding private treatment, which can come at a significant cost.

 “Add to the increasing pressures facing couples with the cost-of-living crisis, many couples can find themselves priced out of treatment. As a result, we are increasingly seeing patients consider alternative means of funding their treatment – including seeking bank loans to help spread the burden. While it is essential we tackle the NHS postcode lottery to improve accessibility of IVF, ensuring funding options are available for those who need additional financial support can also help some access the treatment they need.”

 Perceptions around borrowing

The report also surveyed what people deem as ‘acceptable’ to borrow money for.

Surprisingly, the perception of borrowing for food is frowned upon, with over half (54%) deeming it unacceptable. This goes up to three in four (77%) over the age of 65 who think borrowing money to pay for food is unacceptable.

There are also major differences between what the ‘average’ person views as acceptable reasons for borrowing. While most people agree that borrowing to fund a car (70%), home appliances/renovations (69%) and training (65%) is acceptable, this isn’t the case when it comes to so-called luxuries.

Only 24% think it is acceptable to borrow money to buy a luxury handbag, 28% for beauty treatments and injectables and 29% for entertainment subscriptions and gym memberships.

The least acceptable medical treatments to pay for with finance is a buttock enhancement (18%), followed by a breast enlargement (21%) and, concerningly, gender reassignment surgery (28%).

Richard Carter, CEO, Lenvi, says “The way people borrow and perceive borrowing is changing, and it’s crucial that lenders understand this to meet consumer needs.

 “For example, 29% say they would support parent payment plans specifically designed to support parents at key stages through their child’s life, from buying their first pushchair to their first car. While 32% would like to see more from medi-lending to support people from diagnosis through to surgery. Others would like to see four-legged finance (19%) options that would fund their dog or cats life from purchase through to veterinary bills. And some would like to see translending (11%) developed to support borrowers as they transition through gender reassignment surgery, from diagnosis, hormonal therapy and surgery.

 People want solutions that are tailored to their unique circumstances and uses, so lenders need to put themselves in their customers shoes and get creative if they are to match their expectations.”

 Struggling with your debts?

Our free debt advice is available to people all over the UK, online or over the phone. We’ll go through your finances in detail and explain your options. You might be surprised at the range of help available. We can: 

  • check you’re getting all the benefits you’re entitled to
  • help you with budgeting
  • advise you on debt solutions

 There are various debt solutions available that reduce your monthly debt repayments and even write off some of your debt. We’ll let you know if any of them are suitable for you. All our advice is free. Some debt solutions are free, while others come with a fee. We’ll give you all the information you need to make an informed decision and, if we recommend a debt solution and you decide to go ahead, we’ll help get it set up.

You can read our guide for more details before getting in touch if you’d like.


Avatar of Lydia Bell-Jones

Lydia Bell-Jones

With a background in banking, Lydia has been writing professionally for over five years. She is passionate about helping people improve their personal finances and has a particular interest in the connection between money and mental health.

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