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Report reveals the staggering cost of being digitally savvy – especially if you have kids

6 April 2015

Families with children living at home are spending 50 per cent more to stay digitally connected to the world than singles, couples without children and empty nesters, according to figures released today by Suncorp Bank.

Suncorp Bank’s Cost of Being Digitally Savvy report found Australians (18-64 years) collectively spent around $20 billion, or on average $2,300 each, on technology and communication devices in the last 12 months.

However, the per person figure increased to nearly $3,000 for people with kids under 18 living at home reflecting the high cost of extra devices and data charges.
Suncorp Bank Regional Manager, Monique Reynolds, said the average Australian family spent more right across the technology board to keep up in an interconnected and on-demand world.

“The report found adults without children living at home spent an average of $2,006 on technology and communication each year, while those costs ballooned to $2,993 per adult if they have at least one child under their roof,” Ms Reynolds said.

“Call and data plans for phones and internet were the largest single expense for households, and accounted for the greatest spending divide, costing $244 extra for families with children at home.”

Despite the extra costs, the report revealed over one third of households don’t budget for technology or wildly underestimate how much they will spend.
“Those who purchased technology ended up spending nearly three times what they planned to, with mobile phones, call and data plans, home entertainment systems and digital accessories such as headphones the biggest budget blowers,” Ms Reynolds said.

“Our growing thirst for ‘on-demand’ entertainment, streaming music, movies, radio and TV programs, is also costing us big time.

“A quarter of Australians who use these services have no idea how much they pay for them.”

Some simple tips for being financially savvy when it comes to technology include creating (and sticking to) a realistic budget and overestimating rather than estimating your data usage.


Other key findings

  • More than a quarter of Australians are unsure how much they spend on digital streaming services even though the survey data suggests it is around $245.
  • On average, Australians use their personal devices for 5.8 hours a day.
  • Australians living in urban areas tend to spend more on smart phones, mobile apps, digital streaming of music and entertainment and digital accessories, while those in rural areas generally spend more on plans for their home, mobile and smartphones.
  • In the last 12 months, men spent more than women on technology, at $2,618 compared with $2,143. However, men appear to be better budgeters, with 71 per cent of men budgeting for their spend compared to 61 per cent for women.
  • The home (landline) phone may be on the way out. 56 per cent of Australians retained a home phone plan in the last 12 months but only 47 per cent intend to do so in the next 12 months. Two thirds of those surveyed used their home phone for less than half an hour a day.

Digitally savvy kids are expensive:

Over the last 12 months, when compared with singles, couples without children and empty nesters, Australians living with children aged under 18 spent:

  • $138 more on mobile and smart phones ($577 vs $439)
  • $99 more on mobile and smart phone plans ($563 vs $464)
  • $164 more on home entertainment (e.g. TV or Stereo) ($626 vs $464)
  • $107 more on digital streaming services (e.g. Stan, Netflix or Presto) ($297 vs $190)
  • $64 more on digital music and entertainment (e.g. iTunes, Spotify) ($247 vs $183)
  • $79 more on digital accessories (e.g. phone cases headphones) ($239 vs $160)
  • $61 more on mobile apps ($190 vs $129)

Tips for being financially, as well as digitally, savvy

  1. Create a realistic budget and stick to it. It is just as important to budget for technology as other expenses. Even NASA has a budget. Make sure your budget is workable and will meet your needs, then stick to it. Compare your monthly expenditure to your budget. Be strong when it comes to new technology purchases. It is likely your SmartPhone 6 will do pretty much everything the snazzy new SmartPhone 7 will.
  2.  Watch your downloads. Most internet and streaming services, mobile apps and smartphones include tools that allow you to track your data usage. Make these as easy to access as possible (eg set them as an internet shortcut) and refer to them throughout the month to avoid expensive excess data usage charges.
  3.  More can be less. When it comes to choosing a data plan, over-estimating your data usage can be the smart play. With many plans paying for data you don’t use is cheaper than paying for even a few megabytes of extra data.

The Cost of Being Digitally Savvy Report is the latest in Suncorp Bank’s Cost of Living Series. The series is designed to shine a light on how much Australians spend on common everyday activities and to promote the benefits of budgeting.

Media Inquiries: Ashleigh Paterson 0407 925 665

About Suncorp: Suncorp Group includes leading general insurance, banking, life insurance and superannuation brands in Australia and New Zealand. The Group has 14,500 employees and relationships with nine million customers. Suncorp Group Limited is a Top 20 ASX-listed company with $94 billion in assets. Suncorp Bank is Australia’s leading regional bank servicing more than one million personal, SME and agribusiness customers.

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