‘Smarter spending’ helping Australians manage cost of living crunch



  • Concerns over the cost of living remain elevated but ease for the third quarter in a row.
  • Australians becoming more sophisticated in their spending behaviour and making careful cutbacks.
  • More Australians cutting back spending on eating out, entertainment, micro treats such as coffees, car journeys, holidays and food delivery services.

New NAB consumer sentiment data shows consumers are less stressed about their job security, health, funding their retirement and government policy for the first time since late 2022 and, while still elevated, concerns over the cost of living moderated for the third quarter in a row.

Australians are demonstrating ‘smarter spending’ behaviours and doubling down on careful cutbacks to help contend with the higher cost of living:

  • Half of Australians say they’ve cut back spending on things like eating out at restaurants (57%), treats like coffees and snacks (52%), entertainment (49%), car journeys to save on petrol (46%), holidays (45%) and food delivery services (43%).
  • Those who are cutting back are saving $320 each month on average (or more than $3,800 a year), and Gen Z are saving even more – around $370 per month.
  • 4 in 10 Australians putting extra money into savings and offset accounts, 1 in 5 paying down debt.

NAB Personal Banking Group Executive Rachel Slade said Australians were becoming more sophisticated as they fine-tuned their spending and saving behaviours and used budgeting tools on offer from their bank.

“Australians are embracing ‘smarter spending’ to help them manage the cost of living and keep their budgets under control,” Ms Slade said.

“Carefully cutting back might mean a small tweak to spending on coffees and food delivery or making holiday plans that are more budget conscious to prioritise things for themselves, their kids or their family.

“Australians are becoming more sophisticated in their spending and saving behaviour with the tools on offer from their bank, allowing them to make the best decisions with the full picture of their finances.

“Real time notifications and spending insights are helping people to keep track of where their money is going while budgeting and goal setting apps allow people to craft their own plans for their personal finances.”

More than 1.5 million NAB customers are using the spending feature across the NAB app and internet banking, a 62% jump since mid-2023.

The tool automatically categorises transaction data so customers can better identify where their direct debits are going, removing the need to trawl through old statements. Customers can quickly see their spend on subscriptions, memberships, insurance, gym and health, grocery bills and other payments all in one place.

NAB provides these services by enhancing the transaction data of its over three million digital customers to deliver personalised spending insights that help customers better manage their money.

“While cost of living concerns easing is welcome news, we know averages can mask those on the margins who really need support,” Ms Slade said.

“If you’re concerned about your financial situation, the message is to reach out to your bank at the earliest possible opportunity if you need support.”


Additional information:

  • Data from NAB Consumer Sentiment Survey Q1 2024 of more than 2,000 Australians.
  • NAB Consumer Stress Index: 58.5pts in Q1 2024 compared to 59.5pts in Q4 2023.
  • Concerns over cost of living: 68.7pts in Q1 2024 compared to 69.4pts in Q4 2023, and 69.9pts in Q2 2023.

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