Cost of living rises a furphy?

Most days I live in fear of my letterbox. The bills arrive with regular monotony. It seems I’ve only just got one paid and the next is clamouring for attention.

A new study out suggests that perhaps the cost of living isn’t really going up we are just living bigger lifestyles. The study by National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling at the University of Canberra and AMP, found working couples with children were $328 a week better off in real terms than in 2003.

Although the study acknowledged a rise in prices for electricity, mortgages, medical services, petrol, fruit, bread and vegetables they reckon it’s offset by falls in the cost of computers and audio-visual equipment. According to the report Prices These Days! The Cost of Living in Australia, we are spending more on discretionary items such as private school, restaurants, prepared food and holidays but the actual spending on necessities hasn’t seen a large increase.

Personally, I feel the bills are bigger than in the past and there is more of them. The massive explosion in technology sees us now spending money on mobile phones, internet connections, ink cartridges. While you don’t have to have the latest and greatest in computer product we have found you do need to be connected. Schools assume children have access to the internet and a decent computer, there seems to be no concessions for those who don’t have those basics. I never imagined I would find myself considering purchasing laptops for my children, but next year both will be in high school and the demand for our single computer will need more negotiating than an international peace-keeping mission. There will naturally be an increase in costs associated with having three computers operating.

We are now a family of four mobile phones – with the children now catching buses and getting themselves to various activities we struggled with not being able to contact them – hence they both now have phones, which although they don’t get used that often, do require payments to keep in credit.

So how’s it feel in your household – on top of it all – feeling like there is plenty of money to go around?


5 thoughts on “Cost of living rises a furphy?

  1. BWAAA HAA HAA HAAAAAA!!!! “Plenty of money to go around” *wipes tear from eye* Umletmethinkno.

    But it is true that things that were formerly “discretionary” like a cable modem, really aren’t anymore… Maybe there’s something to that.

  2. Our fridge is making ominious buzzing noises, that’ll make a scary dent in our budget if it clags. But it’s the after-school activities that have to be paid each term that knock us around most. When I was a kid I was lucky to have swimming lessons, these days kids seem to have things on every day of the week.

    • I couldn’t agree more. I drop better than $5000 on extra activities for my kids. Singing, drama, piano, art and swimming lessons all add up and then there is the cost of driving around town to drop them off. The cost of Starbucks to get me through waiting etc. None of these things were possible for me as a kid and now they become expected and since they are expected, they become less valued. Mind you, the cost of groceries has sky rocketed too.

  3. That study cracks me up. The cost of food, electricity, water, rent, etc has skyrocketed. But it’s apparently offset by cheaper computers and big screen tv’s?!? I can’t feed, clothe or house my kids with electronics, unfortunately.

    “What’s for dinner, mum?”

    “A 52 inch plasma, darling, it was cheaper than meat and vegetables. And it’s raw because I can’t afford the electricity to melt it in the oven. Here, have a chainsaw to chop up your dinner. And make sure you chew it thoroughly.”

  4. I agree with the study. For example, one indicator of the extra costs we incur is measured by the number of power points in the house. Our house was built in 1960 and when we moved in our lounge room had only two single power points. We immediately had an electrician friend install two double points. Why the difference? In 1960 there was no VCR, DVD, surround sound system, Foxtel, cordless phone, WiFi, laptop charger, wireless stereo bridge, Wii, digital TV tuner or PVR. That’s just the lounge room. No wonder the average electricity bill is higher.

    Add to that cost, the before mentioned Foxtel, internet, mobile phones, childcare, and sky-mortgage and you start to see the difference.

    The cost of living is lower, it’s the cost of ‘keeping up with the Jones’ that is higher’.

    Admittedly, not having a lot of these ‘luxuries’ would mean each of us would be living in another century, but I tend to agree that a lot of the higher costs we have today are self-inflicted. If you don’t believe me, compare the cost of bread, milk, fruit and vegetables, clothing and even petrol today with that twenty years ago – in today’s dollars. I think you’d be surprised. (

    If you can’t feed the kids at night, maybe it’s time to think about whether you really need that iPhone, $40,000 SUV or McMansion.

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