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Australians spend big on cars, entertainment during first weekend out of isolation

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

New research shows spending increased on household electronics, petrol and car expenses as Australians went out in the first weekend of more relaxed restrictions.

Australians filled up their cars with petrol and hit the shops over the first weekend since coronavirus restrictions on essential travel were relaxed.

New data from comparison site Finder shows over May 16 and 17, Australians spent 84 per cent more on car expenses than they did the week prior, with the vast majority of that spent on petrol (up 71 per cent).

Curiously, the biggest recorded jump in spending was on electronics, which doubled compared to the previous weekend on May 10 and 11.

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Other big areas of cash flow included pet care (up by 75 per cent), entertainment (up by 65 per cent), healthcare and medical expenses (up by 64 per cent) and groceries (up 53 per cent).

The uptick in consumer sentiment is a positive sign for both small business owners and economists, who are forecasting the economic fallout of COVID-19 to be broad and long lasting.

Additional Finder data shows 15 per cent of Aussies surveyed are asking for a reduction in rent or a pause in mortgage repayments as a result of coronavirus restrictions impacting their financial situation.

When drawn out to a national level, that's equivalent to 2.9 million Australians potentially delaying ownership of their property due to the virus.

Kate Browne, personal finance expert at Finder, is concerned by the number of Australians only just scraping by.

"Almost everyone has felt the financial fallout in some way but there are options to help you get back on your feet," said Ms Browne.

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"Whether you own your own home or are renting, it's time to re-evaluate your expenses and see where you can cut down.

"If you have a home loan, a pause in your mortgage payments should be your last resort."

Ms Browne advises that delaying mortgage repayments now could cost you five figures over the life of your loan.

For example, if a homeowner was 10 years into a $500,000 loan with a variable rate of 3.9 per cent, pausing repayments for six months could cost them $11,127 over the remaining 20 years of the loan.

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"We would recommend looking into getting a better rate on your home loan first if you are struggling to make your repayments. While a mortgage deferral or holiday sounds appealing in the short term, you need to seriously consider whether you'll be able to afford this 'holiday' in the long run," said Ms Browne.

"Refinancing your mortgage could save you enough to avoid having to pause your payments. COVID-19 has hit the economy hard but the silver lining is that home loan interest rates have never been lower."

"If your interest rate doesn't have a '2' in front of it you need to start shopping around. There are hundreds of dollars to be saved simply by switching."

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Source: 9News

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