Jane Lindhe Reporter

Jane is a retail and small business writer with a special interest in emerging companies and entrepreneurs. She covered the financial services industry before moving into general business journalism and has written for The Age and The Australian Financial Review.

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2013: another frugal year?

Published 06 December 2012 09:35, Updated 07 December 2012 06:33

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It’s not the news that the manufacturing, construction and retail sectors wanted to hear. However new data shows that rising power costs, employment and economic uncertainty is likely to contribute to another frugal year for consumers in 2013.

Almost half of the respondents plan to make changes to their finances in 2013 by reviewing their budgets, cutting back their spending and, in some cases, reviewing their home loans, Mortgage Choice’s annual consumer sentiment survey for Victoria found.

The news coincides with the revelation that half of the respondents were forced to dip into their personal savings to cope with the rising cost of living this year.

Surprisingly, rising utility bills are the greatest concern of consumers, ahead of the state of the global economy and personal job security, the survey found.

Mortgage Choice spokesperson, Belinda Williamson, says the rising cost of living and the federal government’s economic management are contributing to a cautious outlook for consumers.

“The much publicised increase in the cost of utilities seems to be hitting everyone hard, and this survey suggests that those in Victoria are mot feeling any more optimistic about their ability to meet these costs in 2013.

“With the state of the global economy and job security also weighing on the minds of many Victorians, it is understandable that people are tightening their belts,” Williamson said.

As a result, people are taking proactive steps to get their finances in order, paying down their mortgages and saving rather than spending their money, the survey shows.

The numbers

- Rental squeeze: 46 per cent of respondents believe tighter rental vacancy rates and/or higher rents are having an impact of property prices

- Property prices: 38 per cent believe property prices in Victoria will rise over the next year and 30 per cent say they will remain unchanged

- The switch to fixed: Almost 50 per cent of mortgage holders will consider switching to a fixed term loan when their lender’s fixed rate falls below five per cent

Source: Mortgage Choice