Short of rifling through neighbours’ rubbish bins, there is no better way to compare what your household spends with the rest of Australia than the Bureau of Statistics’ survey of household expenditure released this week.
Conducted every six years, the survey of about 10,000 of almost 9 million households asks participants to record all their spending on goods and services over a two-week period. It also asks them to recall details of more expensive, infrequently purchased items bought over a one-year period. Results are presented for more than 600 goods and services.
So where does all our money go? And how does your household compare with the average?
The average household spends $1236 a week on goods and services, latest results for the 2009-10 financial year show. Housing represents the biggest cost, accounting for 18 per cent of total spending (including rent, mortgage interest payments, repairs and home insurance), up from 13 per cent a quarter of a century ago.
Next comes food and non-alcoholic beverages, eating up 17 per cent of the average household budget, down from 20 per cent in 1984. Transport, including car purchase, petrol, registration and servicing, is the third biggest at 16 per cent, followed by recreation, including holidays, at 13 per cent.
The survey shows the average household spends just $9.60 a week on fresh fruit (including $1.73 on bananas) compared with the $11.77 we spend on confectionery – that’s chips, chocolate and ice-cream.
We have strayed from our British tea-drinking roots and are now a nation of confirmed caffeine addicts, spending $1.77 a week on coffee versus 80¢ on tea. Girt by sea, we spend more on fish and seafood ($4.89) than beef and veal ($4.86).
The age-old dilemma, butter or margarine, continues, with butter a nose in front at 75¢ a week to margarine’s 67¢. The average household grocery bill for food and non-alcoholic drinks adds up to $240 a week and we spend another $63 on eating out and fast food.
Our love affair with beer continues: we spend an average of $12.58 on beer a week, versus $8.47 on wine.
And is that your mobile ringing? We spend almost as much on our mobile phones ($12.17 a week) as we do on fixed telephony ($14.67). Public telephones have gone the way of the dodo, the average household spending just 13¢ a week on such calls.
And here’s one for the front page: women spend a lot more on clothes and hair than men. The average household spends just $42 a year on haircuts for its male occupants, versus $123 for the women. Women also spend more on clothes – $611 a year per household, versus $264 for men. The difference emerges early, with households on average spending $56 to clothe boys and $71 for girls.
People spend as much globetrotting overseas each year ($1389 per household) as they do exploring Australia ($1340). When it comes to entertainment, we spend just 14¢ a week visiting art galleries and museums and $2.29 going to the cinema.
Fees for health and fitness clubs eat up just $2.71 a week from the average household budget, compared with the $3.21 we are happy to punt on scratchies. We happily wager 50¢ a week on winning the lottery. We invest $36 a year on camping equipment and $20 a year on Christmas decorations.
It’s the little details that make us who we are.
THE IRVINE INDEX
Average household weekly spending on fresh fruit.
Average weekly spending on confectionery, including chips, chocolate and ice-cream.
Average household weekly electricity bill.
Average household weekly spending on using a public phone.
Average weekly spending on Christmas decorations.
Average weekly punt on scratchies.
Average weekly spending on petrol.
Average weekly fees paid to health and fitness clubs.
Average weekly charges for paid television.
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics Household Expenditure Survey 2009-10