The average Canberra household has already spent $54,000 this year, outpacing people in every other jurisdiction – thanks in part to an apparent love of chocolate.
The Australian Securities and Investment Commission has launched a new spending clock, which constantly updates how much the average household has outlayed this year. It is part of its Money Smart website, which helps teach people about how to better look after their finances.
It uses the most recent Australian Bureau of Statistics household expenditure data, and applies inflation and census data to estimate current spending levels.
The clock estimated the average Australian household will spend $69,166 on general living costs this year, or about $1290 a week.
Canberrans are spending the most, at $1536 a week or $79,872 a year, taking the clock past $53,400 earlier today. They spend more than other Australians in recreation, household furniture and clothing, but come second to Northern Territorians in housing and transport.
It also provides a couple of interesting snapshots on the way Canberrans spend their money. The average person in the ACT spends $1.02 a week on perfume, behind only the Northern Territory ($1.13) and South Australia ($1.09) and well above Tasmania's 20c.
People in the ACT also spend twice as much on chocolate compared with those in the Northern Territory, at $5.46 a week compared with $2.43.
Nationally, Australians spend an average each week: $52 on holidays, $32 on restaurant meals, $20 each on bakery products and health practitioners, $14 on audio visual equipment, $14 on household appliances, $12 on their mobile phones, $11 each on personal care and their pets, $9 each on childcare and on books and newspapers and $7 on shoes.
Commission spokesman Robert Drake said the spending clock showed how quickly expenses could add up.
"We suspect many households end up misdirecting thousands of dollars each year because they are not keeping track of where their money goes," he said.
"Our research shows many people fall into the habit of living pay to pay. That's why we have developed a new suite of tools to help Australians take control of where their money goes week to week, so they can direct it to where it matters most."
Only 54 per cent of people knew exactly what they spent their money on.
The commission has also launched a free "TrackMySpend" smartphone app and offers an online Budget Planner on its Money Smart website.
The app is designed to let people record expenses as they go, to help them develop realistic spending limits. People could then compare how they spent their money with how much they earned, to develop a budget planner.
Other tips included prioritising where you want your money to go.
"Identify your needs versus wants, make savings (switch bills) and cuts (reduce the things you can live without), set savings goals and refine your budget," the commission said.
"Mark upcoming big bills in your calendar. Put your savings into an account that is not accessible by ATM. Stay on track by checking your budget once a year and adjusting it if your finances change. Reward yourself with occasional treats so living on a budget doesn't feel like a chore."