HomeRetirement Affordability IndexCost increases that hurt you the most in the last quarter

Cost increases that hurt you the most in the last quarter

Inflation was lower than in the June quarter, but the rate of decrease has slowed. The annual rate of inflation in the September quarter was 5.4 per cent, down from 6 per cent the previous quarter. The main drivers of inflation in the September quarter were automotive fuel, electricity, rents and insurance.

Transport costs increased, driven by automotive fuels, which went up 7.2 per cent for the quarter. Average prices for unleaded petrol increased to $1.97 per litre, which is 13.5 cents per litre higher than in the June quarter. Average diesel prices increased to $2.06 per litre, which is 19 cents per litre higher than in the June quarter.

Housing costs continue to rise driven by increasing rents. Rents rose 2.2 per cent for the quarter and 7.6 per cent over the past year. The increase in rents was offset somewhat by the 15 per cent increase in Commonwealth Rent Assistance. Without that increase, rents would have risen by 2.5 per cent (rather than 2.2 per cent).

Electricity prices also drove inflation, increasing 4.2 per cent for the quarter. That rise was also offset by government relief. State energy bill relief reduced electricity prices in all states and territories. Without that assistance, electricity prices would have increased 18.6 per cent (rather than 4.2 per cent).

Food prices continued to drive inflation, but price increases have been slowing since December last year. Food prices rose 4.8 per cent for the quarter, down from 7.5 per cent last quarter. Price increases have been slowing in all categories of food with particularly big drops in fruit and vegetables, which decreased in price by 3.7 per cent for the quarter.

The YourLifeChoices retirement cohorts all continued to see big increases in their living costs. The largest increases were for cash-strapped singles and couples. Singles experienced a 1.4 per cent increase in their living costs for the quarter and 5.4 per cent for the year. Cash-strapped couples saw an increase of 1.3 per cent for the quarter and 5.3 per cent for the year. The biggest driver for the cash-strapped cohorts was rapidly increasing rents. Rising electricity prices and high food prices also had an impact.

Constrained couples and singles saw increases of 1.2 per cent for the quarter, with singles increasing 5.3 per cent for the year and couples 5.2 per cent. The biggest increase came from transport due to increasing automotive fuel prices. Utilities, mainly electricity, were also a factor.

Well-off couples and singles experienced the smallest increase in inflation, with a 1.1 per cent increase for the quarter and 5.1 per cent for singles over the past year and 5.2 per cent for couples. The drivers were similar to the constrained cohorts, namely transport and utilities.

YourLifeChoices Retirement Affordability Table November 2023

Well-off couplesConstrained couplesCash-strapped couplesWell-off singlesConstrained singlesCash-strapped singles
homeowners with private income
homeowners on Age Pension
Couples who rent on Age PensionSingle
homeowners with private income
homeowners on Age Pension
Singles who rent on Age Pension
As a percentage of expenditure13%13%30%15%20%37%
Domestic fuel & power$51.20$38.45$40.59$37.03$33.15$28.13
As a percentage of expenditure3%4%5%4%6%5%
Food & non-alcoholic beverages$287.39$202.41$183.03$144.38$101.48$90.95
As a percentage of expenditure17%20%22%15%19%17%
Alcoholic beverages & tobacco products$62.07$33.89$55.09$33.48$19.92$28.00
As a percentage of expenditure4%3%7%3%4%5%
Clothing and footwear$31.66$17.97$9.50$21.06$9.13$7.53
As a percentage of expenditure2%2%1%2%2%1%
Household furnishings & equipment$87.0537.77$22.98$47.64$22.12$17.64
As a percentage of expenditure5%4%3%5%4%3%
Household services & operation$48.92$34.61$18.69$44.14$24.94$13.25
As a percentage of expenditure3%4%2%5%5%3%
Medical & health care$168.94$120.41$41.69$97.00$42.96$25.42
As a percentage of expenditure10%12%5%10%8%5%
As a percentage of expenditure14%16%9%13%12%8%
As a percentage of expenditure2%3%3%3%3%3%
As a percentage of expenditure20%12%9%16%11%7%
As a percentage of expenditure0%0%0%0%0%0%
Personal care$33.68$20.44$14.20$20.98$11.07$9.81
As a percentage of expenditure2%2%2%2%2%2%
Miscellaneous goods & services$103.77$55.96$27.99$62.98$30.65$19.10
As a percentage of expenditure6%6%3%6%6%4%
Total weekly expenditure$1709.13$988.32$838.51$976.06$547.26$529.42
Total monthly expenditure$7406.21$4282.72$3633.55$4229.59$2371.47$2294.17
Total annual expenditure$88,874.55$51,392.59$43,602.60$50,755.07$28,457.70$27,530.06
Source: The Australia Institute and YourLifeChoices.

What were the areas of expenditure that most affected you in recent months? Have you taken advantage of energy relief rebates? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Also read: Your retirement journey should fit you perfectly. Here’s how

Matt Grudnoff is senior economist at The Australia Institute

Matt Grudnoff
Matt Grudnoffhttps://australiainstitute.org.au/expert/matt-grudnoff/
Senior economist at the Australia Institute, Matt is a regular contributor to YourLifeChoices and has extensive knowledge on retirement incomes, taxation and tax concessions, the federal Budget, poverty and inequality, free trade agreements, housing affordability, energy economics and climate change. He worked at the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Department of Climate Change. Matt is the brains behind Australia's most accurate cost-of-retirement table, the YourLifeChoices Retirement Affordability Index™.


  1. Where on earth do these figures come from? I don’t know whether to laugh, or be angry, with the figures quoted above. I am a 72 solo retired, solely on pension. Luckily – I own my own home. It’s only now I look back and appreciate that I never travelled overseas, or wasted my money, but buckled down, and poured every cent into owning a home. But to read that singles costs have increased 5.4% in last year – WHAT???
    Just some of the examples. To read food prices increased by 4.8% – on what? The tinned soup I used to love, only 16 months ago was $2.25 a tin. Is now $4.50. That’s 100%. A lemonade I find the best to take with my medication – up from 90c to $1.20. That’s more than 30% increase. My insurance renewal premium wanted a 120% increase – and yes, that is correct. I shopped around, cheapest I could find was an increase of 37%. My house insurance also wanted 48% – stating that Brisbane was in a cyclone area (despite the Qld govt stating cyclone zone was north of Bundaberg). Again had to shop around. Rent does not affect me – but just a close friend has seen her rent increase from $420, to $595. With another due in April .
    I do minimal kms in my car, so service once a year. Last year service was $185. Exact same work down this year – $395. I could have got cheaper if I wanted to driver 40/50kms away, and leave the car all day, which isn’t feasible. I’ve cut down going out to seniors nights – firstly due to safety, and secondly, even these the costs are getting prohibitive.
    To read rent has increased 7.6% – WHERE? She would love to retire, (body worn out), but says she has to keep working solely to pay rent. That is not living.
    I do have a minimal amount in super, and have watched that go down, and down, and down, under Albo. Twice I have sought advice, (paid once) – the way it’s going I will barely have enough for 5 years, let alone 20. Then the govt will chastise me for not putting money away for my retirement. I am sick of reading how super is for the ‘long term, and it will correct itself’. Well if I have nothing, left, there’s not much to correct.

  2. Wwellmr grundoff i do not know where you det your information from but accordingto my bills my electricity has gone up %20 GAS %20 SHOPPING %10 COUNCIL RATES %10 PETROL%10 REGO %10% RAA 10%
    Need i go on
    dolies %6
    single parents %15

  3. If the figures in this article were right I wouldn’t be struggling as much as I am.
    Everything is up minimum 20%. That’s bills and food.
    Shocking how inaccurate these figures are.
    Trying to convince us it’s not too bad ?

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