'Thoughtful spending' changes face of household budgets

National Australia Bank

NAB data released today reveals Australians are still spending but they're now making deliberate changes in their discretionary purchases to contend with a rising cost of living.

According to the latest NAB Consumer Sentiment Survey, around four in 10 consumers have made 'thoughtful' adjustments such as:

  • Reducing the number of coffees or lunches eaten out of the home
  • Reducing the number of car trips they're taking to save petrol
  • Cutting back on entertainment plans, such as going to the movies.

Around a third of Australians have also:

  • Changed or scaled back holiday plans
  • Cut back on ordering food through delivery apps
  • Cancelled or delayed a major household purchase like a new TV or washing machine over the past three months.

NAB Group Executive Personal Banking Rachel Slade acknowledged that people were making their own adjustments to stay on top of their money amid a rising cost of living.

"Australians are now making small but thoughtful changes to their purchases to keep on top of increasing costs," Ms Slade said.

"People are prioritising the things that matter for right now and spending less on big ticket items like travel or holidays, home improvements and major household purchases, as well as eating out and entertainment."

The research also revealed that Australians are not yet considering cutting back on spending on their children, their pets and or personal fitness.

Outside of the home, Australians remain committed to meeting the costs of school fees, kids' activities like sport, dance and hobbies, looking after their pets and looking after themselves with gym, sports or club memberships.

"We know some people are concerned about their situation which is why getting in touch with your bank as soon as you can is so important to stay on track financially. When customers speak to our NAB Assist team early, more than 95% of them are back on their feet within 90 days," Ms Slade said.

Despite the move to more 'thoughtful spending', NAB's economic data shows that total spending was up 1.6% in the December quarter but has largely levelled off marking the slowest quarterly growth rate in 2022.

Australians are still expected to spend more when it comes to groceries, utilities and energy bills and medical expenses as costs increase.

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