Young families cut takeout, parties and their own hair as inflation bites

Fairlight resident Monica Eastwood switched supermarkets a few weeks ago, hoping to save on her grocery bills. “It’s like $200 per store for two bags of groceries.”

Campbell Biggs and Monica Eastwood, along with their son Ollie, cut spending because of inflation.Credit:Flavio Brancaleone

Eastwood, who works in childcare, has just changed jobs and won a “massive” pay rise, but the rising cost of living has forced her family to stay longer.

“I don’t feel like there’s extra money, but I definitely make extra money,” she said. “If we ordered Uber Eats as much as three months ago, we would be broke. It’s like $60 per order where before it was more like $40.

The latest ABS retail figures showed that revenue growth has started to level off. Retail spending has jumped 7.2% since December 2021, but June saw weak growth of 0.2%.

“People are starting to feel the pinch,” said University of Melbourne economist Michael Coelli. “[Retail turnover] refusing with higher prices means that people consume much less.

Individuals and families under 35 were more likely to be “crippled” by rising prices and had built up less of a savings reserve during the lockdown, Coelli said.

The years leading up to the pandemic have been dubbed the “lost decade” of under-35 income growth after incomes fell 0.6% for people aged 25 to 24 and 1.6 % for those aged 15 to 24.

“Young people are the ones who suffer the most when things go wrong in terms of conditions,” Coelli said.

In Melbourne’s eastern suburb of Croydon, where inflation is 0.8% higher than Sydney, the young D’Abico family have noticed childcare costs stretching their budgets, along with prices more fuel, utilities and groceries.

Cameron D’Abico ditched trips to the hairdresser and picked up clippers himself to save money. The auto electrician now cuts his hair and that of his eight-year-old son, Caden, at home.

Cameron and Nicole D'Abico and their children Caden, 8, and Aurora, 5, are looking to save money from rising prices.

Cameron and Nicole D’Abico and their children Caden, 8, and Aurora, 5, are looking to save money from rising prices.Credit:Simon Schluter

“We used to go [to the hairdresser] together and it was $40 for the two of us and now it’s $80 and you’re like, ‘Why do we come here regularly for a subpar cut?’” D’Abico said.

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The family of four hopes to one day buy a home, but the rising cost of living is cutting into their savings. They are trying to spend less by reducing family outings to pubs and swapping butcher meat for cheaper supermarket dog meat for their two border collies.

“We try to give the kids everything we can, so we don’t cut their business by the minute,” D’Abico said. “I hope that doesn’t happen.”

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