Retirement Income

How Aussies are overspending on food

How Aussies are overspending on food

Most Aussies agree that take-outs and barista-made coffee are an unnecessary expense – yet we still spend nearly $1,700 every year on these treats, a new report has revealed.

Suncorp’s Cost of Food report found that a staggering 60 per cent of Australians blow over their allocated food budget, with the average person spending close to $300 a week on food and drinks.

One in four Australians do not stick to their food budget, while a third do not budget for food at all.

The bank’s behavioural economist Phil Slade said the findings showed that Aussies are ruled by “instinct” when it comes to purchasing food.

He noted that an average person spends $140 each month – or $1,680 each year – on take-away food and café beverages despite recognising them as an “unreasonable expense”.

“We all have good intentions when it comes to our finances, but for many of us our brains go into auto-pilot when it comes to food,” Slade said.

“As we get busier, we tend to ‘throw money’ at painful problems or situations as an easy solve – hunger or boredom are examples of painful problems we tend to solve by spending on food.

“This is why we shouldn’t go shopping when we’re hungry, as our brains are more focused on addressing the hunger than thinking about our finances.”

Slade said the rise of food delivery services could also lead Aussies to break their budget.

“While the rise of food delivery services are perceived as making life simpler, they’re also giving us another outlet to spend money in moments when we’re experiencing pain [hunger], which in most cases hasn’t been budgeted for,” he said.

The report, which polled more than 1,500 Australians across the country, discovered that the average shopper spend $135 on groceries, $52 on dining out, $31 on alcohol, $22 on takeaways, $13 on coffees and teas, $12 on food delivery services, $12 on supplements and $11 on health foods, totalling to $288 every month.

Slade said meal planning would help people keep their expenses in check. “A good trick is only planning meals a couple of days in advance, so you only buy what you need. This also allows you to buy what’s on special, and avoid food getting lost in the freezer.”