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Buying the good life

Zoë Fielding

Housing costs still eat up the biggest part of most people’s incomes but we’re also spending more on the things that make us feel good.

Weekly household expenditure on goods and services rose by 38 per cent between 2003-04 and 2009-10, while the consumer price index (CPI) increased by 19 per cent, the Australian Bureau of Statistics found. That indicates a rise in real living standards over those five years, the ABS concluded.

Forecasts suggest that we’re not going to let a weak global economy and suggestions that we’re heading for the end of the mining boom get in the way of spending more on ourselves.

A high Australian dollar has encouraged more of us to head overseas on our holidays, and we’re also spending up on local travel.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show the number of Australians taking short-term overseas trips increased by 13 per cent or 811,000 in 2010, and by 9 per cent or 651,000 in 2011.

An extra 425,000 people will have travelled overseas in the past 12 months by the end of 2012, Colonial First State Global Asset Management estimates.

IBISWorld forecasts spending on domestic tourism will rise by 5.9 per cent to $71.9 billion by the end of June 2013.

Locally, we’re expected to eat out in restaurants and cafes more, with IBISWorld suggesting restaurant revenue will increase by 3 per cent in 2012-13 (to $13.9 billion) and cafes will earn 2.6 per cent more (to over $5 billion).

We’ll spend 11 per cent of our household budget on recreation such as playing and watching sport, visiting museums, galleries, cinemas and parks in 2012-13, IBISWorld predicts. That’s 3.3 per cent more than the previous fiscal year, bringing our total spend to $88.2 billion.

And we’ll spend more on healthy living: 5.3 per cent more on vegetables and 11.6 per cent more on organic food, the IBISWorld analysts expect.

Gyms and sports grounds will see 3.8 per cent more of our money, to a total of $3.08 billion in 2012-13. To kit ourselves out for all that activity, we’ll spend 4.2 per cent more on fitness and athletic clothing to $1.17 billion.

If that fails to make us feel good about ourselves, IBISWorld expects we’ll resort to surgery more often, with predictions of a 4.7 per cent rise in surgical procedures over the next five years to reach $151.9 million in 2017-18.

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