Aus­tralians sharpen eye for the bar­gain

Townsville Bulletin - - Your money - By Ka­rina Bar­ry­more

AUS­TRALIAN house­holds are bat­ten­ing down t he hatches, seek­ing cut-price deals for al­most ev­ery pur­chase as fam­ily bud­gets con­tinue to take a bat­ter­ing.

The cost of liv­ing is ris­ing, and so too is the hunt for sav­ings on al­most ev­ery­thing from clothes, gro­ceries and hol­i­days to in­surance.

And it seems the spend­ing cut­backs are only set to con­tinue, with most ‘ keep­ers of the purse’ – women – the most pes­simistic about the house­hold fi­nances, ac­cord­ing to two new sur­veys.

Coles In­surance, owned by re­tail gi­ant Wes­farm­ers, found that Aus­tralians are swiftly be­com­ing a nation of bar­gain-hun­ters.

The dis­count buy­ing, how­ever, also looks to be de­liv­er­ing big re­wards with house­hold sav­ings lev­els on the in­crease and con­sumers also be­com­ing more s avingssavvy and ask­ing for bet­ter in­ter­est-rate deals.

About 90 per cent of peo­ple sur­veyed said they reg­u­larly scouted around for bet­ter prices and deals for pur­chases, with most es­ti­mat­ing they spend nearly two days a month re­search­ing of­fers and prod­ucts be­fore mak­ing a pur­chase.

Not sur­pris­ingly, gro­ceries and house­hold s hop­ping items are the area where most peo­ple seek bar­gains.

How­ever, about 78 per cent of peo­ple also said they ac­tively looked for the best deal when buy­ing clothes and f ash­ion ac­ces­sories, while 67 per cent said they chased dis­counts on ser­vices, util­i­ties and hol­i­days.

Up to 67 per cent of peo­ple also said they sought out the best meal deals and en­ter­tain­ment costs.

‘ ‘ Aus­tralian house­holds are hav­ing to tighten their belts for a num­ber of rea­sons and our re­search shows that most are adept at seek­ing out money-sav­ing deals,’’ Coles In­surance fi­nance di­rec­tor Tony Buf­fin says.

‘‘ Com­mon rea­sons cited for pur­su­ing sav­ings are in­ter­est rate rises, gen­eral mar­ket con­di­tions and higher mo­tor­ing costs,’’ he says.

Psy­chol­o­gist and au­thor Dr Ti­mothy Sharp says find­ing a bar­gain has a pos­i­tive im­pact on how we feel.

‘‘ While we de­rive im­me­di­ate plea­sure from buy­ing items, it is the sav­ings that give us the most long-term sat­is­fac­tion,’’ he says.

‘‘ The power of tak­ing small steps, such as sav­ing on house­hold items, should not be un­der­es­ti­mated.

‘‘ It is these steps that could even­tu­ally add up to achiev­ing our big­ger goals in life.

‘‘ Spend­ing gen­er­ally re­sults in short-term buzz, whereas sav­ings pro­vide a deeper sense of long-term sat­is­fac­tion.’’

In a sec­ond sur­vey, Com­mon­wealth Bank of Aus­tralia found that women were less con­fi­dent than men about the shape of the econ­omy, a ma­jor rea­son for the slump in re­tail spend­ing.

This is be­cause women are re­spon­si­ble for most house­hold money, giv­ing them day-by-day aware­ness of fi­nances, CBA econ­o­mist Michael Blythe says.

‘‘ In suc­ces­sive quar­ters, women are sig­nif­i­cantly less pos­i­tive about their eco­nomic out­look than men.

‘‘ At present, 38 per cent of men per­ceive the econ­omy to be strong, ver­sus just 21 per cent of women.

‘‘Al­most a quar­ter of women ( 24 per cent) also be­lieve the econ­omy is go­ing down­hill, com­pared with 21 per cent of men.’’

This shows up fur­ther in the type of spend­ing tra­dit i on­ally dom­i­nated by each gen­der.

Sales are soft in depart­ment stores, cloth­ing and footwear where women dom­i­nate, ac­count­ing for 59 per cent of sales.

Men, mean­while, spend big on non-re­tail pur­chases such as fuel, re­cre­ation and cars, where sales turnover has fared bet­ter.

ECONOMIS­ING: Depart­ment store shop­pers take ad­van­tage of a sale to buy items at bar­gain prices

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