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Spending habits of Australia revealed


An image of an Aussie pie for Australia Day

It’s mid January already, Christmas seems a distant memory but hopefully you aren’t reminded by festive season debts. With the next big event in the calendar being Australia Day; guest writer Peter Wood joins us to discuss how Aussies are literally spending the day.

As we approach Australia Day celebrations, Australia’s spending habits could hold the key to the question, “What does it mean to be an Aussie?”

Where we spend our money can reveal exactly what we care about, who we are and what we are really celebrating on Australia Day.


We still call Australia ‘home’

We love our brick-and-mortar castles, so it’s no surprise that half the money Australian households spend on goods and services goes on housing, food and transport. The Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Household Expenditure Survey shows the average Australian household spends $1236 a week on goods and services. This includes housing costs, household recreation and food and non-alcoholic beverages.

The cost of your Australia Day tipple

Our spend on ‘beverages’ doesn’t stop there. The average Australian also spends more than $31 a week on alcohol. In New South Wales it’s more like $39 per person, while South Australians manage to come in at $23 a week. According to the figures from consumer research group Canstar Blue, the NSW drinkers are spending more than $1600 a year.

Blokes are forking out $33 and women $28. Gen X splurge an average of $33 a week each while Gen Y and baby boomers come in at $30.

It’s worth noting these figures are averages and Australian spending habits on booze may be more for others. If your budget is more like $150 a week for alcohol, you will be spending $7800 a year – more than the original First Home Owner Grant that had many scrambling to buy property… that’s food for thought.

Also, for those who have cut out coffee in the past as a money-saving measure, perhaps alcohol would have yielded better results. Australians could save $14.1 billion a year ditching alcohol versus the $1.1 billion they spend on tea and coffee.

The cost of another prawn on the barbie

If Australia Day means chucking a prawn on the barbie then, contrary to the saying, you are in the minority. According to the government’s MoneySmart website, we spend $11.7 billion a year on meat compared with just $2.4 billion a year on seafood.

Where you live depends on what you spend

It’s no secret that Sydney Harbour schooners are going to cost more than outback pints. However, some of the trends that emerge from studying Australian spending are harder to explain.

Perhaps chocolate melts too fast in the top end, where NT folk spend $2.43 on the dark treats. Resident in the ACT spend more than double at $5.46. The lonely highways of Tassie see residents spend the least on crash repairs each week – just 79c. Meanwhile, up in Queensland, dental spend is the highest at $9.15 a week.

We love our leisure

Some of the biggest spending in Australian households is done on non-essential items – any surprise there? On the must-have list of Australian spending habits is $52 a week on holidays and $32 on eating out.

Planning for future spending

According to the ABS, households of lone persons aged 65 years or older have much lower weekly expenditure on average. These individuals are hit with costs of about $446 a week.

Whatever your habits, it could be worth using Australia Day to reflect on what your spending says about you. Our Australian and un-Australian spending could reveal plenty of room for savings in 2013. It might also pay to look beyond Australia Day and what is the real cost of the Aussie Dream.

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