Mozo’s Comfort Spending Report - 2019

Mozo has found Australians are spending a staggering $25.5 billion to stave off boredom and make themselves feel better when stressed, anxious or just having a bad day at work.

The nationally representative survey as part of Mozo’s Comfort Spending Report found 81% of Australians comfort spend or buy things to make themselves feel better. Worryingly Mozo also found 53% of people reported their comfort spending was putting their budget under pressure.

“At a time when many people are splashing the cash to comfort themselves, it’s important to track your expenditure to help ensure you don't tap your way to a financial nightmare,” says Mozo Director Kirsty Lamont.        

Read on for the full report findings.

Key findings: Boredom, stress the biggest drivers of comfort spending

Mozo’s research reveals boredom is the biggest driver of comfort spending with nearly half of respondents saying it drove their spending.

Stress or anxiety (45%), feeling unhappy (39%) and feeling lonely (27%) were also significant drivers of comfort spending and around a quarter said having a bad day at work can see them reach for their wallet*.

These feelings of boredom, stress, anxiety and loneliness are driving 81% of the nation to spend $25.5 billion a year. Mozo estimates comfort spending accounts for approximately 3.4% of total annual household expenditure**.  

What are we spending on

Clothes were the most popular comfort purchase with almost half of all respondents finding a fashion fix soothing. Takeaway food (40%) and chocolate (40%) were also popular while a third of respondents load up on junk food and a quarter purchase alcohol^.

For women clothing (61%) and chocolate (45%) are the most popular purchases followed by cosmetics and haircuts. While men head for takeaway food (41%) and tech and electronics (34%) followed by alcohol and gambling^^.

Paying for comfort purchases

Many of us are happy to go into debt to pay for comfort purchases with almost half of those surveyed using a credit card, 9% opting for a buy now pay later platform such as Afterpay and 4% using their partner’s credit card.

The good news is approximately half of respondents use a debit or EFTPOS card and 17% dip into their savings.

Women were more likely to stick to debit or EFTPOS (61%) compared to half of male respondents. Men also favour credit with 56% splashing out on the plastic compared to only 42% of women.

Gender spenders

Your gender is not a good indicator of your likelihood to comfort spend with 81% of women and 79% of men making purchases but it is a factor when it comes to how much you’d spend.

Most people (67%) spend up to $100 a month, a quarter are spending up to $300, 5% are spending up to $500 and 3% spend more than $500.

Mozo found half of the women who said they comfort spend limit their monthly spend to less than $50, while only 36% of men show the same financial restraint.  

Tips for managing comfort spending:

- Recognise and plan for your comfort spending

- If you want to comfort spend set a budget and stick to it

- Put a little money aside in a savings account each pay day to cover you when the desire to comfort spending hits

- If comfort spending on a credit card, pay the balance off in full each month

Crunching the numbers

This data was the result of a nationally representative survey of 1,001 Australians aged 24 years

and above conducted by Pureprofile between 10th and 15th March 2019. Where totals are above 100% respondents selected multiple options.

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  • *Totals will be above 100% where respondents selected more than one option
  • **Based on 9,901,496 households in the 2016 Census and the 2015/16 ABS HES weekly average household spend of $1,425.03. Of the $734 billion total estimated household expenditure, $25.5 billion on comfort spending is 3.4% of total expenses.
  • ^Ibid
  • ^^Ibid