We take a fascinating look at Australia’s spending and saving habits and how they vary across the country. How do you compare in the mix?
Back in the 1970s, Australians were putting around 20% of their disposable income into savings. By the early 2000s, the savings ratio across the country had dropped to zero – thanks in part to the increased availability of credit, falling interest rates and high household confidence among other factors.
Things are looking a lot better today, however, with our national savings ratio increasing to just over 10% by 2013, according to data from the Reserve Bank of Australia. Our return to being better savers can be attributed to the global financial crisis in 2008 reminding Australian households and businesses to be more financially responsible.
A recent survey by Suncorp also revealed that the average Australian is saving $427 a month. Interestingly, Suncorp found that Generation Y – born between 1981 and 1994 – is saving the most, putting away $533 per month, which accounts for 12.7% of their personal income. According to the survey, saving for a home deposit was a major motivator for young Australians, accounting for their higher savings.
How do we spend our money?
Data from 2012 by the Australian Securities & Investments Commission shows that Australian households spent an estimated $642 billion on general living costs. Among the most expensive items were cars, with Australians spending $78.4 billion a year on buying and running their cars (versus $2.2 billion a year on public transport). Spending on recreational activities was also among the highest costs for Australian households, accounting for $19.0 billion of annual expenditure, followed by alcohol at a cost of $14.1 billion.
Other popular ways to spend our money, according to ASIC, were meat ($11.7 billion a year), personal care ($10.5 billion), gadgets (9.5 billion) and beauty ($8.0 billion).
Not surprisingly, where we live can also play a role in how much we spend. ASIC’s 2012 data shows that at the time ACT and Northern Territory residents were spending the most per week, forking out an average of $1,536 and $1,500 on weekly living expenses respectively. Third in line were WA residents, spending $1,285 per week, followed by NSW ($1,265), Queensland ($1,241), Victoria ($1,225), Tasmania ($1,064) and South Australia ($1,044).
How did you spend your tax refund?
Do you spend your tax refund on something fun or put it straight into your mortgage? Approximately 29% of Australians use their refund to pay bills, while 21% save it, according to ASIC’s Money Smart website. Another 13% put it towards loans and credit cards, 9% pay it into their mortgage, while a smaller number of people use it to pay for car registrations, education, holidays or to buy household appliances.
The Australian love of home improvements
Home ownership has long been touted as the great Australian dream, and judging from the amount we spend on renovations, the dream often continues through to the home improvement stage. Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics for the 2015/2016 financial year shows that Australians spent a record $7.7 billion on home renovations.
That amount was $1 billion more than we spent on renovations in the two previous financial years, and translated to an average of $150 million a week. Experts put the increase down to more homeowners choosing to renovate their existing home rather than upgrade to a bigger home, influenced by rising Australian property prices.
No matter where you fit into the national spending and saving landscape, it can be helpful to know what your true savings style is. Take the Aussie quiz here and also discover some tried-and-tested ways to get ahead with your savings.