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Fighting with the family: A third of Aussies arguing with loved ones over money

Reviewed by expert, David Koch
5 min read
2 Feb 2024
australian couple without solar comparing energy bills

Holidays are meant to be the most cheerful time of year, but according to a recent Compare the Market survey, 38.3% of Australians are arguing with their loved ones over the rising cost of household bills.

The bills causing the most arguments are groceries (76.8%), energy bills (65.6) and fuel costs (47.9%).

Meanwhile, just over a quarter are disgruntled about the cost of car insurance (27.6%) and health (25.8%).

Compare the Market’s Economic Director David ‘Kochie’ Koch said it makes sense that people are arguing the most over energy and fuel costs because they’ve increased the most this September quarter.

“Australia’s big energy retailers have reported a dramatic increase in the number of households struggling to pay their electricity bills,” Mr Koch said.

“One company revealed there are more people accessing hardship programs now than at the peak of the pandemic.

“So it’s understandably a tough time for everyone right now. Unfortunately, when there’s this amount of pressure on household purse string, arguments are a by-product of that.”

“Our research shows that for Boomers in particular, everyday expenses are causing them more arguments, whether it’s with providers, people who live with them or otherwise,” Mr Koch said.

“This is surprising in a way because there’s a public perception that Boomers have had it easier and are wealthier than their younger counterparts.

“But not everyone who retires has retired comfortably. Pensioners, in particular, might be experiencing higher increases in the cost of living, which could be why older Australians are arguing over rising bills the most. The dollar isn’t stretching as far so if people are dipping into their super or relying on government payments, it’s going to be hurting the household budget.

“In retirement there is always a fear of running out of money because there isn’t the safety net of a regular wage landing in your bank account to help with unexpected bills.

“Another theory could be that Boomers come from a time when money was taboo and wasn’t as openly spoken about as it is for the younger generations.

“It wasn’t uncommon for one person in the relationship to take care of the household bills, whereas now there’s a more equal division of labour.

“When there are more cooks in the kitchen, things often get heated and arguments can arise”.

Gen ZMillennialsGen X BoomersTotal
Grocery costs74.2%76.6%77.4%78.7%76.8%
Energy bills58.1%66.0%62.3%76.0%65.6%
Fuel costs54.8%40.4%47.2%57.3%47.9%
Water bills37.1%33.3%34.0%33.3%34.1%
Mortgage repayments12.9%31.9%35.8%21.3%27.9%
Internet bills43.5%27.7%17.9%28.0%27.6%
Car insurance costs27.4%27.0%24.5%33.3%27.6%
Household maintenance costs25.8%26.2%26.4%26.7%26.3%
Health costs24.2%25.5%27.4%25.3%25.8%
Essential items27.4%22.7%28.3%25.3%25.5%
Non-essential items16.1%29.1%28.3%20.0%25.0%
Increasing rent payments27.4%27.7%18.9%17.3%23.2%
Home and contents insurance11.3%22.0%23.6%32.0%22.7%
Pet costs17.7%14.2%17.9%12.0%15.4%

Kochie’s tips for keeping the household bills from bubbling over

Compare your bills

From your energy bills to your healthcare costs and mortgage repayments – make sure you’re on the most competitive deal. Comparison websites like Compare the Market take all the hard work out of having to do your own research. If it’s been a while since you’ve switched providers, then you’re probably paying more than you need to. Spending a bit of time comparing your bills each month can save you a ton of money.

How to lower your energy bill

  • Ditch the dryer – Use the sun or an indoor rack placed near a sunny window to dry clothes
  • Shut all the doors, windows, and blinds to trap the cool air inside when running the AC
  • For cooling, set your air conditioner temperature between 24°C and 26°C. Every 1 degree of extra cooling or heating could increase your electricity usage by around 10%
  • Open your windows and doors to create cross breezes and use fans to circulate the cool air
  • Make sure you are using energy efficient-appliances
  • Turn off switches if you’re not using appliances. Vampire power can add 10% to your power bill

Negotiate or switch to a lower interest rate

Mortgagees need to make sure they’re on a competitive low rate. If you find a rate that’s lower than the one you’re on, ask your current lender to match it. If they don’t at least offer you a discount, be prepared to walk. We’ve had someone recently refinance through our lending specialist team at Compare the Market and she’s saved $623 on her monthly mortgage repayments. The products and rates available and suited to you can vary, but it’s worth checking to see how your rate stacks up.

Fuel up for less

You can save money every time you fill up your car by simply checking cheap fuel finder apps like the Simples app. But if you’re still feeling the price pain at the bowser, maybe try carpooling, public transport, walking or cycling. You could also try driving at off-peak times to avoid getting stuck churning through fuel in traffic. Maybe there’s a gym near your work and you could do a workout before work and miss out on the morning peak hour commute.

For more information, please contact:  

Natasha Innes | 0416 705 514 | [email protected]

Compare the Market is a comparison service that takes the hard work out of shopping around. We make it Simples for Australians to quickly and easily compare and buy insurance, energy, travel and home loan products from a range of providers. Our easy-to-use comparison tool helps you look for a range of products that may suit your needs and benefit your back pocket.

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Written by Natasha Innes

Natasha Innes is a Media and Communications Advisor at Compare The Market. Natasha joins us after working as a journalist at the Courier Mail and Seven News. She graduated from Queensland University of Technology with a dual degree in Business and Journalism majoring in Public Relations.

[email protected]

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