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Hey, big spender! Budgets blow out as almost half of Australians overspent last month  

6 min read
29 Jan 2024
couple paying credit card debt

While new household banking insights suggest that Australians spent less on household goods, recreation, food and beverage and hospitality in December, alarming new research from Compare the Market reveals that 44% of adults believe they still overspent in the last month.

Compare the Market’s January research revealed that 22% of Australians surveyed admit they overspent but weren’t phased by blowing their budget, while an equal amount were unhappy with themselves for going over their spending limit.*

That data also showed that 19.6% spent within their budget and were pleased with themselves, while 36.4% said they felt neutral about spending within their means.

Compare the Market’s Chris Ford said the holiday period can be extremely expensive and that many people deal with buyer’s remorse in the weeks and months that follow.

“From Christmas presents to flights, food, fuel and accommodation – the holiday period can be an expensive cross to bear,” Mr Ford said. “While it’s not uncommon for Aussies to let their budgets fly out the window during this time, reality starts to sink in when we notice our savings account dwindling, the credit card bills roll in or when we’re sent a reminder about the Buy Now, Pay Later debt we’ve got ourselves into.  

“Unfortunately, no bill is immune to inflation – fuel, groceries, and energy have all gone up, so we need to put these bills under the microscope and make sure we’re not spending more than we need to.”

Looking at the age breakdown, almost a third of Gen Z (29.6%) said they overspent last month and had no regrets. Out of all the generations, Millennials were the most likely to be unhappy with their overspending, with a quarter of the cohort (25.4%) feeling remorse about spending over their limit.

Meanwhile, Baby Boomers appeared most savvy with their savings, with the older generation most likely to stick to their budget.

“Gen Z have this YOLO mentality, where they know they’ve overspent, but they’re not going to waste time feeling bad about it,” Mr Ford said.

“However, we know the older generations tend to have more expenditures to consider, such as mortgage repayments, rent, utility bills and more. If they’ve significantly dipped into their savings or taken on credit to help fund purchases in the last month, they’ll really start to feel the pinch throughout January.

Are you happy with how much you spent in the last month (discretionary and non-discretionary)Gen ZMillennialsGen XBoomers
Yes, I’m happy. I was under my budget19.30%20.30%17.70%20.50%
Yes, but I did overspend29.60%23.00%19.80%19.60%
Neutral, I was within my budget28.10%31.30%38.00%43.00%
No, I’m not happy. I overspent23.00%25.40%24.50%17.00%

Survey of 1005 adult Australians, conducted in January 2024.

“It’s okay to treat yourself every now and then, but it’s important to stick to your budget and live within your means,” Mr Ford said.

“Everyone should aim to have an emergency account with enough savings to last three months without pay, although we know this has become increasingly difficult for many as the cost-of-living crisis rages on.”

However, Mr Ford warned against completely ditching insurance to claw back cash.

“People may be looking for a quick and easy way to grow their savings, but ditching things like your home and contents insurance, health insurance, car insurance and more isn’t encouraged.

“Instead, use the start of the New Year to see if you can compare and switch to an equal level of cover that’s more affordable than what you currently pay. We know from recent weather events that anything can change at the drop of a hat, and preparing for the unthinkable is essential.

“That’s why switching and not ditching your insurance is paramount.

“If you need to cut back on spending, it could be a good idea to reassess your budget.”

Mr Ford said Australian households can save a ton of money by putting their bills under the microscope and combing through their expenditures.

“From your energy bills to your mortgage repayments, you’ve got to make sure you’re on the most competitive deal,” Mr Ford said.

“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.”

 Mr Ford’s top tricks for clawing back cash in 2024.

  1. Research ahead of time. From the weekly grocery shop to your insurance renewal or filling up the tank at the servo, it’s never been more important to shop around and pay as little as possible. There are some great savings available, but it’s up to you to find them.
  2.     Don’t auto-renew or accept a price hike. From insurance to energy and everything in between, ensure you’re putting your bills under the microscope and never just accept a renewal or price hike. If you’ve been with the same retailer or provider for some time, ensure you’re still on the best possible deal with them or compare your options to see if you could save by switching to another plan or policy.
  3.     See which savings are available through rewards programs and apps. You can “boost” within shopping apps to maximise your ability to earn points. You may also be eligible for discounts or savings if you sign up for a store or restaurant’s perks program. Don’t forget to flash your app or card whenever you make a purchase.
  4.     Seek out the hidden rewards. Insurers, energy retailers, roadside assistance programs and more may offer exclusive deals and discounts, simply for being a member. Check if there are any discounts available and utilise them where you can.
  5.     Make the most of rebates and discounts. You may be entitled to an array of rebates, concessions, discounts and more if you’re a concession card holder, student, or even if you hold a Seniors Card. Check with individual retailers if you’re entitled to any discounted rates or rebates.

 *Survey of 1005 adult Australians, conducted in January 2024.

 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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