The ABS has released its latest Household Expenditure Survey, and it’s not looking good for the average consumer.
We’re spending more on the basics — $190 more per week — than six years ago.
We’re also deeper in the red, with household debt doubling to $169,000 since 2003-04.
So how can you cut down on the biggest three household expenses — housing, food and transport?
Here’s a few tips and tricks from the experts.
Top savings tips
- Re-negotiate rental agreements and find better deals on home loans
- Cut back on grocery costs with planning, batch cooking and avoid pre-packaged meals
- Look at your transport usage and consider cheaper options
According to the survey, Australians are spending 19.6 per cent of their household expenditure on housing.
That’s up from 18 per cent in 2009-10.
And for low income families that’s even higher with the average household spending a whopping 23.4 per cent on average just on housing.
And when it comes to powering those homes, the amount spent on energy has jumped 26 per cent since 2009-10.
That’s an increase of 11 per cent.
A recent survey by consumer group CHOICE found the housing crisis was worrying 77 per cent of young Australians.
The survey found out of renters, 9 per cent of renters had deliberately missed rental payments, 28 per cent have had to borrow money from friends and family and 19 per cent have had to live off a credit card until pay day.
And for those who own homes, they were fearful of a rates rise.
So can you actually cut your housing costs back?
If you’re renting, consider more affordable suburbs with good public transport options.
And if you’re in a city like Brisbane or Melbourne where there’s an apartment boom, make the most of it.
CHOICE spokeswoman Stefanie Menezes said you shouldn’t be afraid to exercise your consumer power when it comes to negotiating.
“Balancing a household budget is never easy but there are ways consumers can change their everyday spending to make sure they get bang for buck,” she said.
Last month the ABC spoke with Carbon + Energy Markets director Bruce Mountain on his top energy saving tips which included heating water with solar, choosing energy efficient appliances and looking at your insulation.
Check out his full list of tips here.
Australians are spending 16.6 per cent of their household budgets on food.
And out of the lowest income households that number is 18.7 per cent.
So how can you cut back?
Queensland mum Jody Allen is part of a growing community of bloggers writing about ways to save money online.
Stay at Home Mum founder Jody Allen says planning is key when it comes to saving on groceries. (Supplied)
Her website, Stay At Home Mum, shares tips on cutting down your grocery bill and other savings hacks.
She started the website after being made redundant while on maternity leave in 2011, prompting a drastic look at her household expenses.
She told the ABC the first tip for reducing your weekly shop was using what you already had in the cupboard.
“So many people go shopping, and they still have so much food in their pantry, freezer and fridge,” she said.
“Make sure you really use up everything you possibly can before going shopping.
“Another tip is to halve the amount of meat you consume,” she said.
“Meat is expensive — instead bulk up your meals with rice, beans or vegetables.
“Not only will you save money, you will lose weight and be healthier.”
She said her favourite and most cost-effective meals were simple “but simple doesn’t mean boring”.
“We have sausage casseroles, burritos, baked potato nights where we pick our own toppings, we make a lot of stir-fries as they are healthy and fast,” she said.
Her other tips include planning ahead, freezing meat if you don’t cook it that night, cooking meals in batches and avoiding the frozen food aisle.
“It is an easy trap to fall into if you are time poor,” Ms Allen said.
Australians spend an average of 14.5 per cent on transport, which is down on the 15.6 per cent we spent on transport back in 2009-10.
For the lowest income households this is 15.7 per cent.
But it’s still the third biggest drain on household finances.
So where can you make cuts?
You can start by looking at the total cost of your transport for the year.
It might be paying for parking near your workplace or catching public transport.
Once you’ve calculated the total cost for the year, take a look at how that can be reduced.
Could you park somewhere without a fee? Or carpool with a colleague?
And if you’re catching public transport can you drive to another train stop with a cheaper zone? Or ride or walk to work one day a week?
If you own a car take a look at how much you’re spending on insurance. Can you negotiate a better deal?
And make sure to do regular car maintenance — like filing you tyres with air and keeping the oil topped up — that will save you in the long run.
CHOICE told the ABC consumers should think twice before making any purchases on luxury items, don’t renew your insurance without shopping around and beat the bowser blues by doing your homework on websites such as accc.gov.au on when and where to fill up your car.
“Choice’s latest quarterly Consumer Pulse report found that more than half of all Australian consumers are worried about how to pay for health care, electricity and next week’s groceries,” Ms Menezes said.
“Concerns over the cost of fuel, car insurance and home insurance weren’t far behind, showing the nation is feeling the squeeze on many basic services.”