Lifestyles Compared: Weekly Expenses

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Weekly expenses come in all shapes and sizes. We compare two different lifestyles to help you find ways to save costs and see where weekly expenses can rise (a lot).

Two lifestyles compared:
Person A - extravagant
Person B - economic

The results below show just how much some people spend, it’s pretty surprising!

Firstly, some background

Lifestyles vary hugely in Australia as we have a large spectrum; singles, couples, families and retirees all living in our rural, suburban and urban areas.

When applying for a loan, finding out living expenses is crucial. The same can be said when trying to save money.

Many people in Australia are paid by employers each week, so figuring out weekly expenses can really help.

According to Moneysmart, Australian households spent $666 billion on general living costs. Here’s a quick summary:

Weekly expenses
Single person under 35: $849
Couple with kids (youngest child under 5): $1,833
Couple with kids (youngest child aged 5-14): $2,085

We’ll take a look at the following things which you can easily control;

  • Transport
  • Coffee
  • Food
  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco use


We previously took a look at car costs and found the “average” car in Australia consumes around 11.1 litres of petrol per 100km.

The average commuting distance in Australia is 16km one way, or 32km per working day and a little more on weekends. Most estimates put the average yearly distance travelled by vehicles on our roads at around 13,000km.

For reference, Americans drive roughly 21,600km per year and in Japan, it’s 9,300km per year.

Anyway, for us Australians, that’s 255.8km per week.

Summing up the average 11.1 litres / 100km of fuel and a week’s worth of driving (255.8km), Australians spend $43.44 on petrol per week.

That’s at an average petrol price of $1.53 per litre, the average for October, 2021 in Australia.

Petrol prices fluctuate in most populated areas in Australia. According to the ACCC, this is due to: Price cycles are the result of deliberate pricing policies of petrol retailers, and are not directly related to changes in wholesale costs.

Of course, filling up on low-price days is the way to go.

Below are the weekly expenses for fuel for our two lifestyles, assuming they drive a petrol vehicle and not an EV or diesel.

Weekly fuel costs comparison
Person A: $49.69 (bought at high-price time at $1.75 / litre)
Person B: $39.18 (bought at low-price time at $1.38 / litre)

So far, person B is $10.51 better off per week


Coffee is a morning-must for most Aussies. The average Australian adult drinks two cups of coffee per day. Prices of a cup vary with the type; mocha, flat white, iced latte, for example.

The average price of a cup of coffee in Australia is $4.13.

That means $8.26 on coffee per day if you buy coffee from cafes.

Instant coffee, on the other hand, comes in much cheaper. You’ll get 58 standard cups of coffee out of 100 grams of instant coffee, according to Nescafe.

Although prices vary depending on where you go shopping, the rough price for a 100gm jar of Blend 43 is around $9.50.

That means one cup of instant coffee costs about 16 cents or $0.32 per day for the average person.

Most people add between 150ml - 200ml of milk per cup and after some quick checking, the average price of two litres of milk comes to around $3.00. We’ll add 30 cents per cup for milk.

We won’t factor in water or sugar costs.

Weekly coffee cost comparison
Person A: $57.82 (two daily cups of coffee at cafe / restaurant)
Person B: $6.44 (two daily cups of instant coffee at home)

So far, person B is $61.89 better off per week


A food budget can be pretty elastic. Buying groceries on special (discount) from supermarkets to eating out at high end restaurants has a huge impact on weekly expenses.

Exact figures for the “average” Australian are hard to pin down but we found the following weekly grocery bills;

  • Single, no kids: $100
  • Couple under 35, no kids: $150
  • Family of 4 (youngest child under 5): $230
  • 5 or more: $280

According to Suncorp’s annual Cost of Food report, the average weekly grocery bill was $130 in 2020. We’ll stick to this number for person B in our tally.

This number is factoring in all kinds of groceries, but not alcohol or tobacco.

Eating out is far more expensive.

Breakfast ranges from around $6 for toast to around $25 for a big breakfast. We’ve already added coffee above, so we’ll pitch breakfast at an average cafe at $12.

Lunch menus again vary considerably. We’re looking at food and one drink (non-alcoholic) and after some scouring online in different capital cities in Australia, we’ve pitched lunch in an average restaurant at around $16.50 - that’s for a meal and a drink.

Dinner is the most expensive meal for those who like to eat out. We’ve found the average cost of a meal WITHOUT a drink to be around $19. That’s taking fast food, suburban and urban restaurants into account.

Eating out every meal, an extremely extravagant style of living, isn’t what most people do but it may show how costs can be cut.

Weekly meal cost comparison
Person A:$332.50 (eating out)
Person B: $130 (prepared at home)

So far, person B is $264.39 better off per week


According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), the average household spends around $32 on alcoholic beverages per week.

It might be hard to believe (for some people), but the average person aged 18-35 spends only $22 on alcohol per week. The highest is families of four with the youngest kid over 15 years of age. This demographic comes in at $47 per week on alcohol per household.

Of course, not drinking at all is the most cost efficient way to go but for our example, person B is on the low end of alcohol consumption and person A is on the high end.

Weekly alcohol cost comparison
Person A:$47
Person B: $22

So far, person B is $289.39 better off per week


Smoking is, from all points of view, hugely expensive. The cost on a person’s health is, as we all know, astronomical. So is the cost on one’s wallet.

According to the National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS), smokers aged 18 and over smoke an average of 12.9 cigarettes per day or 90.3 cigarettes a week.

According to data, the average 20-pack of cigarettes costs around $35 in Australia. This means $1.75 per cigarette or $158 per week for the average smoker - far more expensive than the average weekly car loan repayments.

Weekly smoking cost comparison
Person A:$158
Person B: $0.00

Person B is $447.39 better off per week

That’s $23,264.28 per year.

Most people don’t live so extravagantly

Fortunately, most people don’t buy petrol at the most expensive times of cycles or eat out each meal. Take a leaf out of the figures above to save money on your weekly expenses as you might be able to pinpoint somewhere where you can cut your spending.

Even more fortunately are decreasing smoking rates. In 2016, 15.6% of Australian adults regularly smoked tobacco, that figure dropped to 11.6% in 2019 - nearly one in ten. In the early 1980s, around 35% of Australians smoked.

Need more help?

Best Money Saving Tips That Can Improve Your Life

How to Get Back on Your Feet Financially

5 Safe Practices to Protect Your Savings


  • Budget Direct
  • Petrol Spy
  • ACCC
  • AIHW
  • Energy Consumers Australia

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