CommBank transaction data analysis reveals the high cost of eating out

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Australians are spending a small fortune to satisfy their food cravings, says CommBank.

The country’s addiction to fast food, ordering in and dining out is costing Aussies millions each month.

Analysis of CommBank transaction data has revealed that its customers alone spend more than $640 million per month on eating out.

Foodies are spending about $140 per month each at restaurants and around $90 per month on fast food.

Of the trackable transaction, almost 72 per cent of fast food purchases are made on debit cards, while 55 per cent of restaurant bills are paid with debit cards and the rest on credit cards.

CommBank’s Executive General Manager of Digital, Pete Steel, says that customers should think carefully how they pay for food purchases, especially considering the nation’s credit card debt sits at $51.3 billion with about $31.4 billion of that accruing interest.

“The RBA said about 85 per cent of all transactions are non-cash now, so we think as money is getting invisible it’s a lot easier to spend,” said Mr Steel.

“When it comes to debit or credit, responsible budgeting and cash flow management is the key. Whether you are taking a monthly line of credit or whether you are spending directly out of your account, the key is to understand what you are spending.

“Everyday spending can amount to a lot of money at the end of the month, and sometimes it’s hard to see where your money is going, or why we spend more at different times of the year.”

The rise of ‘tap and go’ payments could be to blame for the increase of impulsive spending, says Rising Tide Financial Services’ Managing Director Chris Browne

 “They are not taking cash out of their wallet and paying for their takeaway, they are rushing out their card and they are done,” said Mr Browne.

“You need to quantify the expense you would suffer if you take your family to a restaurant, for example is it worth taking them to a restaurant and paying $100 if I can make the same meal for $20 and make it at home.

“The reality is a lot of people are under pressure and working harder and longer because they have skyrocketing mortgages so inevitably they are going to eat takeaway and eat out.”

How much do you spend each month on fast food and dining out? Do you think that tap and go payment systems are encouraging you to spend more, or making it more difficult for you to track your spending? What discourages you from cooking and eating at home?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca is a voracious reader who loves words. You'll often find him spending time in galleries, writing, designing, painting, drawing, or photographing and documenting street art. He has a publishing and graphic design background and loves movies and music, but then, who doesn’t?

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56 Comments

Total Comments: 56
  1. 0
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    Well there you have it. Spending up on convenience food and then claiming no money for electricity bills and the like. Give us a break.

  2. 0
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    I hate eating out as it’s not as good as I cook at home myself.

    • 0
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      I have no issue with people who choose to eat out but it gripes me when people claim hardship whilst doing this.
      You are correct Geezer. Home cooking is often equal to restaurant food although it is nice to experience different flavours occasionally. I have no issues there given my wife cooks as good as restaurants anyway.

    • 0
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      I seem to always come away very disappointed with the food and service. Chefs today have no idea how to cook food well instead just make it look like pieces of art. If you want art go to an art gallery not a restaurant!

    • 0
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      No OG that is so true. It is about speed and profits.
      Eating out almost certainly feeds the obesity crisis. Fat, salt and sugar and massive portion sizes.

    • 0
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      Goodness, considering the huge number of cafes and restaurants available in all but the small towns today, how can you say “chefs have no idea how to cook food”? It might be more due to the choices you make. If you choose only the junk food chains then sure the food is rubbish, likewise maybe the food courts in malls. But there are many really good cafes and restaurants where they serve excellent food. Of course they are trying to make a profit, they are not charities, but i bet I could find you lots of good food where you live as long as you are prepared to pay for it, and I don’t mean pay a fortune but if you think 2.95 can buy you a burger then it’s your tastebuds which are letting you down.

    • 0
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      I’m yet to find any that serve decent food and I’m not talking about 2.95 burgers either. Did you know it is cheaper to buy a burger and get a free coffee than just to buy a coffee at the golden arches? Just take the coffee and tell them to keep the burger.

    • 0
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      I agree with you, Happy cyclist.

    • 0
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      I agree happy cyclist but as you say it is expensive. We’ve eaten some great food recently but it was expensive. Also had some appallingly bad food as well which wasn’t cheap.

      It wasn’t a fortune but with drinks we were looking at around $180 for three people. That seemed average.

      Not sure how an OAP with a home to maintain affords that.

    • 0
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      Many these days do not know HOW to cook or have the inclination. Fast food is easy and they do not care about the expense it would appear.

      Also when the bills come in it is easy to trot along to Anglicare or one of the other agencies for a hand out with the bills. I know all about it…have seen it first hand.

  3. 0
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    Eating out is getting far too expensive. I’m on the West Coast and have been eating out and am amazed by the high costs of food and beverages. At home I don’t eat out.

    Even just a coffee and roll can cost $20 these days. Steak, salad and chips over $30.

    Yet everywhere I went there were a lot of retirees obviously able to spend.

    Either they have disposable income and are not on the OAP or they are spending a fair whack of the fortnightly budget.

    Food and drinks requiring heating, cooking, refrigeration will rise as the energy prices cut in so I expect higher prices by Christmas.

    • 0
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      One has to laugh as you see lots of grey nomads parked in free camps but enjoying themselves at nearest café or pub. I would not be surprised that it actually costs them more than if they paid for their overnight stay. I know one pub cost me over $50 for a meal and it’s rarely over $30 a night to stay in a caravan park.

    • 0
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      Grey Nomads are not short of a penny. Its a life style.

    • 0
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      Why do you think towns provide free parking and allow free camping for grey nomads? Because they stop and spend money on lunch etc! Why on earth shouldn’t they camp free where legal and then repay the town by spending up on food? Really, you are so negative OG.

    • 0
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      It’s unfortunate that the elderly are so dstinctive by their wrinkles and white hair, if they weren’t they’d look like everyone else and elderly bashers wouldn’t be able to separate them out. There’s a law that doesn’t allow people to be nasty about different skin tones, perhaps we need another one that says people are not allowed to be nasty about those with wrinkled skin either.

    • 0
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      For every person on this site who cries poor and says they cannot manage on what they get via government there are plenty of retirees out there living the good life.

      Go to any caravan park in northern Australia and see how full the caravan parks etc are with grey nomads.

    • 0
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      Agree one has to book months in advance for a bit of dirt in Northern Australia during nomad season.

      Was going to spend a few days in one town and knew it was busy so went to the information centre and asked them about getting into the showground. Was told that I had to ring every caravan park in town and if they were all full to ring the first one again and I could stay at showground. I just said I have a better idea and I’ll just move on to the next free campsite instead and walked out. Found a National Park campground 50 kms away and there was only a couple of us there.

  4. 0
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    One point not mentioned in this article is that much or the food consumed in bistros and clubs is pre-prepared, effectively convenience food. This is not to say the food in clubs and bistros is not nutritious, but it not as fresh as home cooking They buy salads in bulk, vegetables ready to either cook or reheat and fish and most meats prepared and frozen (eg chicken parmigiana crumbed and precooked), all it needs is re-heating in a microwave before serving). Even bakeries buy bread and cake mixes (which include flour , flavours, colouring and egg powder), all they have to do is add is water or milk and bake. There are some top end restaurants which prepare from scratch; they can beat home cooked in variety but not in either quality or price

  5. 0
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    “The reality is a lot of people are under pressure and working harder and longer because they have skyrocketing mortgages so inevitably they are going to eat takeaway and eat out.”

    I don’t believe it is ‘inevitable’ at all. Convenient certainly, laziness probably, lack of cooking skills quite likely. However, having decided to blow the money on fast food and the like, it is disingenuous to then cry poor.

    • 0
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      I don’t know about these fools but when I was younger and struggling , I came home and cooked no matter how late in the night it was , to save money

      Usually had leftovers or cooked in advance and frozen

    • 0
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      Pre-planning Raphael. What is the world coming to? hehe
      KSS I am starting to think some of the younger generation actually have lost the “how to” and certainly more and more don’t seem to know what they are eating is so bad for them.

    • 0
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      Are you serious KSS? Eating out may save you time but it costs a bucket compared to making your own. Home made is mostly more nourishing as well.
      Being time poor is an issue but there are ways around that like a cooking afternoon Sundays? Oh yeah…the footy, the show to go to, the social engagements. I get it.

    • 0
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      Back in your box Mick. I am not defending the profligate spending on restaurants or take-aways. I don’t believe it is either cheaper or faster than cooking at home – which is something I have done since the age of 11 and still do to this day.

      There were plenty of families in the ’60s for example where there were three or four kids and both Mum and Dad worked full time. ‘Latch key kids’ we were called. And yet there was always a home cooked meal on the table. After all, except for fish and chips (a very rare treat on even rarer holidays) or the local ‘Chinese Chippy’ there just wasn’t fast food to get – especially with the shops closing at 5.30pm (1pm on Wednesdays and Saturdays and shut all day Sunday) as well!

    • 0
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      In the ’60s, Mick, it was expected that the mother, however tired or ill, would stagger round and get a home cooked meal on the table. Nowadays she’s allowed to feel too bone tired to stand on her aching legs and feet and start cooking at 7.00pm at night, especially when there’s a delivery meal service down the road.

  6. 0
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    Great for the hospitality industry
    Keeeping Aussies employed

    • 0
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      On 4 hour shifts any time of the day/week with penalty rates being pulled out from under their feet by the current crooked government giving workers’ money to the rich by way of tax cuts.
      I don’t call that ’employment’. I call that 21st century slavery. Shame on you Raphael!

    • 0
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      MICK a lot are students and the hours suit them. They can only earn so much before losing study grants anyway.

      The great ones get tips as well. Surprising more don’t actually offer great or pleasant service.

      I’ll be back to frugal next week and can’t wait.

      Eating out is not exactly that pleasant these days. Most places are noisy, busy and have very ordinary menus or too fancy and expensive to actually enjoy.

    • 0
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      Well they’re employed and not on the dole aren’t they

      Slave labor ? -rubbish . I wouldn’t call $20-$30 an hour slave labor

  7. 0
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    I used to eat out once a week. Now, it may be once in 8 weeks and that is to catch up with friends. If they just wanted a coffee or even a wine, I would be happy. I hear that a lot of seniors take advantage of our local pub that offers $5 lunch meals. I haven’t eaten there myself, but hope it is nutritious for them. At least they get to have food prepared for them and catch up with friends. Sometimes it isn’t the food but the company that is important.

    • 0
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      Yes I agree. We used to have a Saturday night dinner with friend where everyone would bring a plate on a rotation system. Taking turns at providing the protein, carbo, salad/vege dish and sweets.

      It was great and cost very little.

  8. 0
    0

    Marvellous, isn’t it! Government and banks are trying to fast track everyone into a cashless society and then have the gall to look down on everyone because they use their credit cards.

    • 0
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      Don’t know what you’re conplaininh about .
      They are providing good stats and looking out for our welfare
      We are eating too much junk food and spending a lot on eating out instead of paying off the mortgage

    • 0
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      Government and banks looking out for our welfare, surely you jest.
      Government and banks only look out for their own welfare and the welfare of their wealthy cronies.

    • 0
      0

      so the bank provided this info on spending habits to rip us off ?

      what the hell is wrong with you people – never met a bunch of negative nellies in all my life

    • 0
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      I agree people seem to be eating out all over these days and perhaps they need to pay down mortgages. Then again perhaps their at the stage where they just don’t give a rat’s anymore.

      When the banisters start whining about our indulgences you have to laugh at them Raphael. They should talk.

      If we all stayed home they’d soon start whinging as the restaurants go bankrupt.

      This whole article is a beat up.

    • 0
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      A bunch of Negative Nellies, Raphael, – no -a bunch of realists. Commonwealth Bank has just had to refund $10 million to customers that the bank should not have charged. The same bank is fighting a class action from shareholders. How have you missed those snippets? Most certainly not looking after our welfare. How much money would customers have lost if they hadn’t complained?

    • 0
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      We can afford to eat out because we have paid off the mortgage, in fact we have paid off everything and the banks now send us money quarterly. We have done this so that we can afford to indulge ourselves, but some people seem to have it the wrong way round, they want to indulge themselves now and will winge about not being able to afford a home later.
      It is simple really, if you really want something, you have to save and be prepared to go without a few things in the short term. Learn how to make the Sunday Roast stretch to three meals like most of the Boomers did.
      The banks are looking after me now, only because they have no choice, I own part of them.

  9. 0
    0

    This greed is also why Australia has a massive obesity problem, with the consequent health problems (diabetes and its complications, cardiovascular issues, and so forth).

  10. 0
    0

    Wouldn’t it be nice to have that sort of money to ‘spare/spend’ on not having to cook! I wish!

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