How Much Does Alcohol Really Cost Australians?

Every Friday night, from Perth to Parramatta, millions of Australians knock-off work with a thirst that only their favourite drink can quench. Whether it’s a schooner from the local, a bottle of merlot shared on the balcony or – quite a bit later in the evening – a shot of tequila before striding to the dance floor, it is no secret that the majority of Australians enjoy a drink in their free time.

At Pocketbook we were curious to see exactly how much Australians were spending on booze.

While the consequences of excessive alcohol consumption can be tragic and are known to lead to wider societal issues (according to Australian Institute of Criminology’s 2013 report The societal costs of alcohol misuse in Australia, alcohol-related problems cost society more than an estimated $14 billion), we wanted to explore how our drinking culture was hitting Australians’ hip pocket.

By analysing the spending habits of Pocketbook’s 250,000 users, our aim was to provide insights into the trends and patterns associated with alcohol consumption in Australia, which could in turn be used to predict future spending. As always, we analysed the data in aggregate and with identifiable information removed.

During our research, we split spending behaviours into three different categories: Big Box retailers (Dan Murphy’s, First Choice, BWS etc.), Small Box retailers (smaller wine and liquor shops as well as specific online retailers such as Jimmy Brings and Cellarmasters) and Bars/Pubs. With a final aggregate sample size of 128,192, we reviewed spending habits for 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Our investigations began with a few common sense hypotheses like Australians spend more on alcohol over Australia Day than they would over the course of a normal weekend (save the sarcasm – we told you these were common sense hypotheses!).

We also hypothesised that Australians were spending more on alcohol year-on-year, essentially in parallel with general consumer spending trends.

While some of our hypotheses were spot on, you might be surprised at the findings that ran counter to our predictions.

We’ll leave a deeper analysis of these trends, along with the industry context, to others, but here’s some of the key findings from our data:

  1. Australian spending on alcohol has remained relatively steady over the past three years. While there has been a slight year-on-year increase, the average monthly spend per person in the 2014, 2015 and 2016 financial years was $113.03, $121.43 and $124.45 respectively.  Have we reached “Peak Alcohol” as a nation?  Or are awareness-raising efforts like febfast having an effect?
  2. Smaller retailers are struggling. Since 2014, smaller retailers have experienced a decline in market share every year while the spend at both Big Box and Bars/Pubs has been increasing.
  3. Dominant players continue dominate. During every year analysed, Dan Murphy’s had close to double the market share of its closest big box competitor. Interestingly, Liquorland experienced a resurgence, more than doubling its market share since 2014 (from 11.28% in 2014 to 23.28% in 2016).
  4. The number of tipples triples on Australia Day. During the Australia Day period, the number of people purchasing alcohol increased by at least 3x every year. Interestingly, this also causes a shift in the spending spread between Big Box, Small Box and Bars/Pubs – more on this below.
  5. On Australia Day, the average spend per person is LESS than on an average weekend. This one took us by surprise, but it makes sense when you consider the influx of occasional drinkers purchasing lower amounts for the occasion thereby bringing down the average spend across the board.
  6. The festive season is thirsty work. Australians are spending an average of 25% more on alcohol during December than the rest of the year – this rate has also been increasing steadily over the past three years.
  7. Australia Day is spent outdoors. Patronage at bars and pubs more than halves during Australia Day, while spending at bottle shops of all sizes increases. It’s hard to beat the backyard barbecue or a day at the beach on Australia Day.

 

Now for the numbers…

Alcohol Spending Analysis

We conducted a study into Australian spending on alcohol over the past 3 years with specific focus on  December to January festive season spending, and also for the Australia Day period over 2014, 2015 and 2016.

As part of the study, we looked at spending for the following alcohol retailers:

Big-box retailers:

  • BWS
  • Cellarbrations
  • Dan Murphy’s
  • IGA Liquor
  • Liquorland
  • Woolworths Liquor
  • Bottlemart
  • Vintage Cellars

Small-box retailers both online and offline, using keywords:

  • Other bottle shops
  • Other liquor shops
  • Other wine shops
  • Specific online retailers such as (Vinomofo, Cellarmasters, Jimmy Brings etc)

Bars and pubs including suburban hotels, pubs, bars.

The sample size for the study is 128,192 people.

 

Hypothesis 1: Australians are spending more year-on-year on alcohol.

Australian spending on alcohol has remained relatively steady yearly. We looked at monthly average spending per person for the past 3 years.

  • 2013-14 – $113.03
  • 2014-15 – $121.43
  • 2015-16 – $124.45

While this is the case, the makeup of the spend across types of retailers has only shifted slightly – with small-box stores declining;

  • 2013-14: 43% Big-box , 33% Small-box, 24% Pubs/bars
  • 2014 -15: 45% Big-box , 30% Small-box, 25% Pubs/bars
  • 2015 -16:  45% Big-box , 29% Small-box, 26% Pubs/bars

Some insights:

  • Big-box is almost half of the spending in dollar terms
  • Small-box has shifted 4% less over the last 3 years (Could this be because people going out more? Big retailers taking over share? – Further research is recommended).

Of the Big Box group, the following are the best The best performing liquor stores Liquor Stores:

  1. Dan Murphy with a market share of 45.17% (down from 50.13% in 2014)
  2. Liquorland with a market share of 23.28% (up from 11.28% in 2014)
  3. BWS with a market share of 22.95% (down from 27.19% in 2014)

Note: The rest of the big retailers growth was relatively stable.

One of the reasons why Big Box group might be taking over is due to the discounts they’d likely offer over smaller vendors. An early evidence of this is that for the year Dec 2014  to Nov 2015, the average transaction amount is 25% higher at small-box stores smaller retailers. Further analysis is recommended based on like-for-like product price comparisons. 

  • Big-box – $44.73 average transaction size
  • Small-box – $56.16 average transaction size
  • Bars / Pubs – $36.64 average transaction size

The average transaction size appears to line up well with the average expected prices for 1x case of beer, 1x bottle of spirits or 2-3x bottles of wine.

 

Hypothesis 2: Australians spend more the Australia day period versus the average weekend

During the Australia day period – there is an overwhelming amount of people purchasing alcohol compared to an average weekend. The amount of people increase in amount of people purchasing alcohol over Australia day is between 3-4 times the typical weekend.

  • 2014 – 3.06x
  • 2015 – 3.79x
  • 2016 –  4.20x

We then looked at how the spending on Australia Bay varies by retailers types. The makeup in spending also changes during the Australia Day period versus a regular weekend for 2014-15.

  • Big Box – Down 48.65% to 43.81% on Australia Day.
  • Small Box – Up 28.08% to 35.24% on Australia Day.
  • Pubs/bars – Down 23.27% to 20.94% on Australia Day.

Some insights:

  • Less people are spending at Big Box retailers and more people spending at Small Box retailers.

Despite the huge increase of people spending on alcohol, the average transaction size remains consistent to the average weekend, so the typical purchase is very much still 1x case of beer, 1x bottle of spirits or 2-3x bottles of wine:

  • 2014 – $47.87 Australia Day, $48.16 Regular Weekend
  • 2015 – $48.52 Australia Day, $45.48 Regular Weekend
  • 2016 -$43.43 Australia Day, $44.69 Regular Weekend

 

Hypothesis 3: Australians spend much more on alcohol over the December / January festive season.

During the December period there is huge jump in spending followed by a steep decline in January and February. This can be seen by looking at the total average monthly spend per person. This is an expected decline as December is the festive season.

Average per person spend Dec to Feb 2014 (Dec 13) 2015 (Dec 14) 2016 (Dec 15)
December $135.85 $150.37 $153.30
January $107.14 $117.47 $116.93
February $102.50 $109.11 $116.50

We can see here that the average spend per person is much higher during the month of the December period:

  • 2014 (Dec 13) – $135.85 – 22.4% above monthly average (excluding Dec)
  • 2015 (Dec 14) – $150.37 –  26.58% above monthly average (excluding Dec)
  • 2016 (Dec 15) – $153.30 –  28.96% above monthly average (excluding Dec)

Similarly, there is a reduction of monthly spend in February. People are likely putting into effect their new-year’s resolutions (ie cutting down alcohol consumption or saving money) – more research needed.

  • 2014 – $102.50 – 8.20% below monthly average (excluding Dec)
  • 2015 – $109.11 – 8.88% below monthly average (excluding Dec)
  • 2016 – $116.50 –  2.04% below monthly average (excluding Dec)

 

Finally, we looked at the drop-off for specific store types. We noticed that the bigger the store (ie the more planned purchase) the bigger the drop-off between December to February. This means the Big Box stores drop off the most and bars the least.

  • Big box – 29%
  • Small box – 13%
  • Pubs/bars – 10%
Average per person spend December – February: Month 2014 (Dec 13) 2015 (Dec 14) 2016 (Dec 15) 3 year average
Big Box Dec $110.11 $115.69 $119.61 $115.14
Jan $80.97 $85.58 $86.42 $84.32
Feb $77.51 $82.77 $85.90 $82.06
Small box Dec $99.10 $111.74 $105.37 $105.40
Jan $86.81 $98.71 $89.16 $91.56
Feb $87.63 $92.82 $93.74 $91.40
Pubs/bars Dec $75.28 $78.42 $77.19 $76.96
Jan $71.78 $71.27 $72.16 $71.74
Feb $68.78 $68.90 $70.61 $69.43

We can see that the the biggest drop off in per person spend is at big box retailers. The smallest drop-off is for pubs/bars.

 

Pocketbook Personal Spending Takeaways.

The above findings should give you a leg up when it comes to how you spend your money on alcohol.  And here are three additional key takeaways:

  1. Consider doing FebFast.  Chances are, you’re spending less on alcohol in Feb. Why not do it for a great cause. Get sponsored for your behaviour change and raise money to help disadvantaged youths in Australia.
  2. Visit a “Big Box” retailer.  The numbers suggest that many more people are now flocking to Big Box stores, most likely to take advantage of the discounts they are able to provide.  But if you are aiming to reduce spending, plan ahead and you could save more. The bottleshop next to the pub may be convenient by being open at 8pm on your way to a house party, but chances are it’ll cost you more than an afternoon trip to Dan Murphy’s.
  3. Remember to budget more dollars for drinks during the festive season.  Spending on alcohol (and many other things) goes way up during this time, so take a lesson from the numbers above and set a budget based with them in mind.

Wishing you a happy Feb(fast)!

Valentine’s Day Spending Data Surprises

Valentine’s Day remains a source of controversy and tension for many people.  Some complain it’s a “Hallmark” holiday that tries to commercialise love by forcing people to shop.  In recent years, resistance has grown, so much so, that media outlets have speculated that Valentine’s Day might be dying.

At Pocketbook, we let the numbers be our guide and if there was some way we could help people become more conscious about how they spend on Valentine’s Day, we wanted to find out.

So we dug down into our data to conduct one of the largest studies into Australian spending on Valentine’s Day.  We looked at spending over the past 4 years (2013-2016) with a specific focus on the 14th (Valentine’s Day) as well as the two-week period leading up toward the day – 1st to the 14th.

Analysis for Valentine’s day spending was split across three times periods and different types of merchants – commonly used for experiences and gifts to celebrate the day.

1st – 14th (period leading to Valentine’s day) Merchants analysed were items that typically require advanced purchases:

  • Jewellery stores
  • Ticketing retailers (such as Ticketek, Ticketmaster etc.)
  • Activities (such as Redballoon, rock climbing and ice skating etc.)

14th (Valentine’s day) merchants that are analysed were:

  • Florists
  • Restaurants & take away
  • Transport (limited to taxi’s, Uber, Ingogo, GoGet and others)
  • Movies

Total sample for the study was: 135,449

 

Hypothesis 1: Men spend more than women on Valentine’s Day

Based on analysis of the past 4 years, men on average, spend $123.10 compared to the $90.54 women spend during the Valentine’s Day period (1st – 14th Feb). The median is $65.40 for men and $54.83 for women – meaning most people spend less that $100.

Across the merchant types, men tend to spend more (per person) than women on restaurants, florists, travel, Jewellery and activities. But here’s a surprising twist: When it comes to movies, women spend almost double on Valentine’s Day.

  • Florists – men spend 10% more than women; $68.26 Male, $56.49 Female
  • Restaurants – men spend 6% more than women; $75.49 Male, $67.19 Female
  • Travel expenses – men spend 15% more than women; $34.61 Male, $25.83 Female
  • Movies – men spend 30% less than women; $29.02 Male, $54.42 Female
  • Jewellery – men spend 27% more than women; $179.28 Male, $103.57 Female
  • Activities – men spend 4% more than women; $78.99 Male, $73.01 Female
  • Tickets – men spend 1% less than women; $180.50 Male, $184.25 Female

Now that we’ve established that the average man spends more the average woman, we also looked at the number of men spending vs women.  Overall more men spend than women across these categories too especially on flowers. Almost 2.5 men per woman. But, again, when it comes to movies, women spend more.

  • Florists – 136% more men than women
  • Restaurants – 31% more men than women
  • Travel expenses – 33% more men than women
  • Movies – 11% less men than women
  • Jewellery – 2% less men than women
  • Activities – 2% more men than women
  • Tickets – 4% more men than women

 

Hypothesis 2: Valentine’s spending is decreasing year over year

This table captures the average amount spent per person across the years during the Valentine’s Day period (1st – 14th Feb).

Valentine’s Day is not dying (at least not if spending is any indication). Spending has stayed steady.  In total, we find is that spending has generally increased slightly over the past 3 years, around 4% increase year on year. 

Average Per Person Spend 2013 2014 2015 2016
Total spend $112.29 $104.61 $109.53 $114.62

 

Through further research, we attained data highlighting the average spend per person on Valentine’s Day over the years. To be able to identify which categories people are spending more/less on.

From the data, there appears to be some differences in spending habits when comparing weekday Valentine’s Day (2013 and 2014) and weekend Valentine’s Day (2015 and 2016). Would be worth someone investigating this further.

 

Hypothesis 3: Spending on Valentine’s Day is different on weekends or weekdays

We thought people might spend differently based on whether Valentine’s Day fell on the weekend or weekday. So we compared weekday (2013 and 2014) and weekend (2015 and 2016).

And, indeed, when we look at spending across merchant categories, we see that spend at florists is much higher on weekdays (possibly due to delivery costs? – more research required).

per person spend weekdays weekends
Florists $73.38 $64.44
Restaurants $88.21 $85.81
Travel $32.53 $29.52
Movies $33.24 $32.35

 

Otherwise, regardless of whether Valentine’s Day is on a weekday or a weekend, people spend roughly the same amount on movies, travel and restaurants. While average spending is consistent, what interested us was the number of people spending on each type of merchant.

The following chart shows the % of the sample (number of people) that purchased at the merchant types on the day of the 14th across the spending categories. We can see that there is 2-times more people purchasing flowers if Valentine’s day falls on the weekday rather than the weekend. Travel and Movies spending is also more popular on the weekends.

% of total people weekdays weekends
Florists 26.35% 14.86%
Restaurants 53.20% 53.61%
Travel 9.52% 16.86%
Movies 9.73% 15.72%

 

We then looked at this picture for spending from the 1st to the 14th (ie prior to Valentine’s day). Here we took a closer look at Jewellery, Activities and Ticketing services. We can see that where Valentine’s day falls on a weekend, the average jewellery purchase is 34% more. While others stayed steady. So does this mean Jewellers will do better if Valentine’s Day falls on the weekend?

per person spend weekdays weekends
Jewellery $176.94 $237.19
Activities $109.71 $107.32
Tickets $188.64 $179.03

 

In fact, when we look at the % of sample of people who purchase before the 14th across the Jewellery, Activities and Tickets categories. We see that when a Valentine’s Day falls on a weekday, more people will purchase jewellery in the weeks leading up.

% of total people weekdays weekends
Jewellery 46.11% 40.22%
Activities 10.45% 11.88%
Tickets 46.23% 47.43%

 

 

Pocketbook Personal Spending Takeaways.

The above findings should give you a leg up when it comes to how you spend your money on your Valentine.  And here are three additional key takeaways:

  1. You’ll be twice as likely to buy flowers this year.  The last two years saw a marked decline in flower purchases (a more than 50% drop) on Valentine’s Day.  Our data suggests that this was not because flowers are going out of fashion for Valentine’s Day, but because Valentine’s Day fell on two consecutive weekends.  This likely means that with Valentine’s Day on a Tuesday this year, flower sales will experience a big rebound.  It is worth considering whether the flower industry is aware of this and if so whether there will be more than the usual price markups for flowers to pinch consumers?
  2. You might spend less on Jewellery this year.  Our data clearly showed that while the amount spent on other Valentine’s Day gifts and activities has stayed roughly the same, spending on jewellery has continued to grow.  In fact, it looks like the per capita spend on jewellery has grown by 30% in just four years (from about $180 to $240).  One possibility for this  —though it leaves us scratching our heads— is that people spend more on jewellery when Valentine’s Day falls on a weekend (the reverse of florists) and that this year will see a drop in jewellery spend.  Overall, though, it means that consumers probably need to watch their jewellery spend and what jewellery retailers might be doing price-wise.
  3. Don’t feel bad if you don’t spend thousands on your loved one. Our data shows that most people spend between $60 to $100 – price of a cheap dinner plus some well-priced flowers. Love may not cost as much as you think!

Happy Valentine’s to you and your loved one.

Plan To Join A Gym In 2017? Read This First.

How often do you hear people say they’re finally going to get in shape in the New Year?  It’s a great goal, but you can be excused for doubting whether the person is actually going to see this resolution through.

We’ve all been there, and we’re skeptical, too.  So this year, we decided to see whether the spending of Pocketbook’s 250,000 users could provide some insights into behaviour patterns around this type of resolution. As always, we analysed the data in aggregate and with identifiable information removed.

We focussed our research on gyms.  Gyms are an obvious destination for people with fitness goals, and they can cost a lot of money.  Our data uniquely enables us to discover gym spending patterns over time.

We started our investigations with a few common sense hypotheses. Like, do people sign up for gyms mostly in January — we thought they probably would?

And do people who sign up in the New Year stay running on the treadmill? Or do they fall off (hopefully not literally)? Again, we figured they probably would. You get the picture.

Because past history is usually the best indicator of future behaviour, we looked at the post new year spending trends in 2014, 2015 and 2016. Armed with our questions, we dug down into a big sample set of nearly 35,000 people after we had filtered the data to look at the top 35 gyms.

Turns out we’d guessed right on a few things, but were surprised on others.

We’ll leave a deeper analysis of these trends, along with the industry context, to others, but here’s what we found in our data:

  1. Fitness resolutions usually don’t last – This wasn’t a surprise, but the speed of exit was.  The majority of people who join gyms in the New Year are gone within months (half are gone by 5 and a half months);
  2. People Delay Their Fitness Resolutions –  Most people’s gym resolutions don’t start right away, they start after Australia Day (this was a little surprise for us: February looks to be a bigger month for signups than January);
  3. We’re making more fitness resolutions – People have been signing up to gyms in the New Year at an increasing rate for the past three years;
  4. Some of us are born optimists – 10% of people keep trying every New Year, joining a new gym only to drop out; and
  5. The $8.5b fitness war might be heating up – Australia’s top six gym brands were analysed: Fitness First; Jetts; Anytime Fitness; Virgin Active; Fernwood; Snap Fitness.  Fitness First has been at the top of the list in terms of total spend for the past three years, but Jetts has just passed Anytime Fitness for 2nd place (fitness is an estimated $8.5 billion industry in Australia).

 

The Detail.

Want to know more? Here’s the data in a bit more detail:

Hypothesis 1: People that sign up early in the year as part of their New Year’s resolution will mostly drop off during the year

On retention, we looked at the signups in Jan and Feb for the top gym brands we’ve identified (Fitness First, Jetts, Anytime Fitness, Fernwood, Virgin Active and Snap Fitness). We found:

  • Around 57% of people don’t stick around for the whole year. This is pretty consistent across the three years:
    • 2014 – 55.16%
    • 2015 – 58.32%
    • 2016 – 56.68%
  • Further still, of the 56%, the majority (34%) dropped off before we hit EOFY.

Again, anyone out there with the time and inclination could take a close look at the different gym cancellation processes to see if this is a factor in the numbers above (i.e. Are people no longer going to the gym, but still paying because cancelling is too difficult or psychologically they want to stick with it?)

Hypothesis 2 and 3: People sign up to gyms mostly in January as part of their New Year’s resolutions (and are signups around this time increasing)

We looked at which month people first signed up to gyms across 2014, 2015 and 2016. We found that January was not the biggest signup month in either of the three years. February is. We’re speculating this delay could be due to:

  • Gyms offering free trial periods, so it’s possible in some cases membership payments start in early February (worth someone looking into).
  • Summer fun until Australia Day. People naturally delayed acting on their New Year’s resolution while in holiday mode.

With this last point in mind, we looked at Jan and Feb combined and found that the proportion of people signing up has increased in the past three years. Look at the figures:

  • 2014 – Jan and Feb – 18.05% (just over the expected 1/6 of the year)
  • 2015 – Jan and Feb – 21.92%
  • 2016 – Jan and Feb – 25.50% (more than 1/4 of people)

Hypothesis 4: Some people that sign up to gyms as part of their New Year’s resolution, then drop off, might repeat this behaviour year on year

We looked at pairings of 2014-2015, and 2015-2016 and found that:

  • The % of people that repeat the process was low (10% of people across both years)
  • Of the repeaters, there is a slightly higher skew towards women (about 2% more likely)
  • Also when looking at the repeaters about 10% of those (12.88% of the 2014 repeating population, and 8.91% of the 2015 repeating population) repeated at the same gyms – so if things didn’t work out, people are more likely going to try a different location.

Hypothesis 5: Gym membership costs vary greatly and the rankings of the top six gyms in Australia has changed (ranking based on our data)

On a per user / per year spend, we see that gyms vary greatly. Primary factors affecting these results are most likely pricing (and discounting strategies) and retention.

Gym Brand 2014 2015 2016
OVERALL $485.01 $550.15 $674.03
Fitness First $681.80 $774.14 $818.16
Jetts $428.03 $453.32 $513.63
Anytime Fitness $223.96 $137.00 $268.76
Virgin Active $1,082.74 $1,145.69 $1,299.29
Fernwood $813.72 $847.79 $976.46
Snap Fitness $394.68 $377.52 $473.61

As part of this exercise, we were also able to identify the 6 most popular gym brands over the past 3 calendar years (more members). These are:

2014 2015 2016
1 Fitness First Fitness First Fitness First
2 Anytime Fitness Anytime Fitness Jetts
3 Jetts Jetts Anytime Fitness
4 Snap Fitness Virgin Active Virgin Active
5 Fernwood Snap Fitness Fernwood
6 Virgin Active Fernwood Snap Fitness

 

Why These Questions Matter.

Pocketbook’s purpose is to help people spend and save better. Gyms obviously work for a lot of people.  Even people who drop out may benefit from a boost in fitness or a lifestyle change, but given that almost $8.5 billion dollars are spent annually on gyms and fitness in Australia, it’s important to know that the majority who join up to a gym as part of a New Year’s resolution don’t stick it out.

Consumer watchdog, Choice, has taken a close look at gym contracts here; and SunCorp’s the Cost of Being Fit underscored how a lot of spending around fitness goes unrecognised by Australian consumers (read more here).

NPR in the US has done a great piece on the psychology around the gym business model (that’s here), but it’s worth summing up. Basically, gyms count on more people signing up than will actually use the gym. In some ways, this is fine. It makes the costs cheaper for everyone and a better experience for the people who actually end up using the gym. Our data doesn’t say don’t sign up to the gym, but maybe think twice or three times about whether you are one of the people who won’t use the gym enough to make it worth your while. The good news seems to be —and this could be something a researcher might look into— that the kind of unfair contracts of the past seem to be gone and competition remains very strong.

How We Approached the Data.

We take our user privacy very seriously, and strictly and anonymously analyse data to determine the kind of information about trends and habits that can further this purpose and benefit everyone. We also take the integrity of the data we analyse seriously, so here are some of the things we did to clean the data so it would be most accurate and effective:

  • We took out transactions which were outliers or otherwise questionable
  • We built a sample based on the most prominent 35 gym brands and an “other” to mostly catch ongoing fortnightly/weekly or monthly subscription gyms. This filters out equipment purchases and other anomalies. We then used the ‘cleaned data’ to look at specific questions
  • Our final sample was 34,816 people

 

Pocketbook Personal Spending Takeaways.

The above findings should give you a leg up if you’re going to find the best gym deal.  And here are three additional key takeaways:

  1. You probably don’t want to sign up to anything longer than a 6 months contract. There’s a really good chance you’ll drop off before July.
  2. If you want to join a gym this year, you’ll likely need to increase your fitness budget. Average yearly gym spending was up 48% year-on-year last year and has been up yearly over the past 3 years. Chances are prices this year will be higher again.
  3. Exercise without the gym fees. Regular exercise has many benefits, economic and other, but do you really have to pay for it? Here are 50 free exercise hacks from Huffington Post.

Wishing you a healthy and fit 2017!

Is your bank reducing interest rates this August?

In May, your bank passed on the RBA rate drop when the cash rate dropped to a record low 1.75%. A few days ago, the RBA has announced that there would be a further 0.25% reduction to the cash rate, taking it to a staggeringly low 1.5%. While most banks passed the May rate cut in full, it appears the banks will only be passing on a portion of the rate cut this time round.

So far, of the following banks, Bank of Queensland has announced the biggest cut at 0.15%, followed by Westpac and St George at 0.14%. This is also consistent when looking at the aggregated cut from May and August – with BoQ leading the pack at 0.40%. Westpac again leads the majors at 0.39%. The poorest performer overall is ME Bank, only passing on an aggregated 0.15% across May and August.

Another key aspect of the rate cut to observe is the the speed at which the banks pass it on. ANZ is the speediest, passing on the rate cut 10 days after the May RBA announcement and similarly, 10 days yet again after the August announcement. This is almost 2x better compared to the other banks which typically pass on the cuts with a lag-time between 34 to 41 days in aggregate.

To be kept in the loop for future home loan rate changes on your own loan and any RBA rate decision movements, try Pocketbook Home Loan Insights. You will get alerted when the interest rate on your home loan changes and see how much it has changed and what that means for you.

Bank Date of cut Size of cut Total cut
(May & Aug)
Total days after announcement
ANZ 12 Aug 0.12% 0.31% 20
Bank of Melbourne 23 Aug 0.13% 0.38% 41
Bank of Queensland 31 Aug 0.15% 0.40% 44
BankSA 23 Aug 0.13% 0.38% 41
Bankwest 23 Aug 0.10% 0.30% 38
Bendigo Bank 19 Aug 0.10% 0.30% 44
Citibank 23 Aug 0.15% 0.36% 41
Commonwealth Bank 19 Aug 0.13% 0.38% 34
CUA 18 Aug 0.10% 0.35% 32
HSBC 22 Aug 0.12% 0.37% 40
ING Direct 15 Aug 0.12% 0.37% 30
ME Bank 23 Aug 0.10% 0.15% 34
NAB 19 Aug 0.10% 0.35% 30
St George 23 Aug 0.14% 0.39% 41
Suncorp 14 Aug 0.10% 0.30% 34
UBank 19 Aug 0.10% 0.35% 30
Westpac 23 Aug 0.14% 0.39% 41

When is your bank dropping your interest rate?

The recent interest rate drop from the RBA came as surprise to many experts. Since then, all major banks have announced that they are passing on the rate cut either in part or in full.

The majority of the banks are dropping rates around 0.19% to 0.25%. With ANZ having the lowest rate drop of all the majors with 0.19%, and ME Bank dropping the least – a tiny 0.05%.

While a drop of 0.25% may not seem like a huge amount, it can make a sizeable impact on the amount of interest you pay in the long run. On a $300,000 loan over 20 years you would pay an extra $13,000 in interest at 4.5% versus 4.25%.

To be kept in the loop for future home loan rate changes on your own loan and any RBA rate decision movements, we’ve introduced Pocketbook Home Loan Insights. You will get alerted when the interest rate on your home loan changes and see how much it has changed and what that means for you.

Similarly, banks have also been lowering introductory rates for new loans. From around 4% a month ago to now well below 4%. The standouts in market appear to be in the 3.6% to 3.9% range:

  • Loans.com.au – 3.63%
  • UBank – 3.74%

Find out when your bank will drop your rate here. Track future rate changes with Home Loan Insights here.

Bank Date of cut Size of cut
ANZ 13 May 0.19%
Bank of Melbourne 23 May 0.25%
Bank of Queensland 18 May 0.25%
BankSA 23 May 0.25%
Bankwest 20 May 0.20%
Bendigo Bank 30 May 0.20%
Citibank 23 May 0.21%
Commonwealth Bank 20 May 0.25%
CUA 19 May 0.25%
HSBC 23 May 0.25%
ING Direct 20 May 0.25%
ME Bank 16 May 0.05%
NAB 16 May 0.25%
St George 23 May 0.25%
Suncorp 25 May 0.20%
UBank 16 May 0.25%
Westpac 23 May 0.25%

10 ways to make the most out of Pocketbook

It’s 2016. If you are like most people, the new year brings a few resolutions for your finances – making more, saving for something big, or just generally wanting to get a little “better”. Our mission at Pocketbook is to make the process of getting better with your finances easy.

So to start the year, I wanted to share with you some of the best tips and tricks that we talk to users about via our Help service. By following these, you’ll be sure to get more out of Pocketbook in 2016. So here goes…

1. Use the “Transferring Money” category

This is the most frequently asked question for new users – how to make transfers between accounts not over-inflate actual income and expense totals.

This is why we built the special “Transferring Money” category – categorising a transaction as this will exclude it from calculations. The best part of the feature is that because of our learning categorisation algorithm, once you teach your Pocketbook that a certain transaction is a money transfer, it’s almost certain that all future transactions of the type would be automatically categorised correctly as well.

Pro-Tip: Use “Transferring Money” for payments you make to pay off your credit card or your mortgage where your credit card and loan is also sync’ed to Pocketbook.

2. Use the new Overview screen for a snapshot of your finances at your fingertips

A major update we made to the iPhone app is the new “Overview” view consisting of a combination of ‘Tiles’. These Tiles each highlight a different area of your finances – e.g. your budget and what you have been spending on, your balances, how your savings are going (coming soon!) and recent transactions.

Together they give you the best snapshot of your finances you will get anywhere. We’ll be adding to these Tiles throughout 2016 as well so stay tuned!

Pro-Tip: You can tap on each of the Tiles within the Overview page to see more detail. E.g. tapping on the Bills & Income section will take you to the Bill and Income calendar for a more detailed view of what’s coming up and what’s already happened.

3. Pay special attention to all “bank fee” alerts

One of the best features that new users often aren’t aware is that Pocketbook automatically detects bank fees charged to your accounts. The system sends an alert immediately to you via both email and push notification through the app.

We’ve helped hundreds of users reverse incorrectly charged bank fees with this feature. Pay attention and you could save from incorrect charges as well!

Pro-Tip: In the email alert, we’ve included your bank’s phone number there to make things super easy if you need to call your bank to dispute the fee.

4. Using the “#oneoffspend” tag

Sometimes big purchases happen – the big TV or the holiday flights away. As these are typically hundreds or thousands of dollars, it’s important to not have these transactions blur my view of the financial discipline I’m otherwise maintaining day-to-day. The “#oneoffspend” tag caters for exactly this – use this tag to exclude certain transactions from budget calculations.

5. Try the all new Pocketbook Feed

3 months ago, we introduced “Pocketbook Feed”. The Feed is the place where all the most important insights about your finances reside. It’s like an anti-virus software, picking out and showing you anomalies and things you should know.

In December, we added special Subject Areas. These capture timely news and articles about money which may be of relevance to your interest areas such as share investment, property, superannuation or deals – ONLY the areas you are interested in. We curate to the best of the best news so you don’t have to wade through endless junk articles.

Pro-Tip: Try the “Discover” button on the right to follow interest areas relevant to you, and try the “little man” icon on the left to filter only for your personal notification items.

6. Set your Safely Spend a smidgen lower in 2016

Another common Helpdesk query is how Safely Spend should be set and used.

Safely Spend is designed as a running average of your regular discretionary spend – meaning anything outside of bills, one off purchases (marked with the #oneoffspend tag – see 3) and Transferring Money (see 1) categorised between your own accounts. So this includes drinks, dinners, train tickets, groceries, petrol etc. Things that are somewhat more negotiable when it comes to saving.

For 2016 try to set your Safely Spend lower by a few dollars. It’s like virtually lowering your allowance. This should get your resolutions well and truly going.

Pro-Tip: Is there a holiday you’re saving for? Maybe a pet puppy? Try dividing the cost of whatever it is by 52 if your Safely Spend is weekly, 26 if you plan fortnightly, and 12 if you’re a monthly person. Then take that away from your Safely Spend number when you set up. Try it! You’ll have everything to gain.

7. Use the “Apply Only to this Transaction” tickbox

While we continually to improve on our categorisation algorithm, it’s almost impossible to be always accurate. You might have bought a stick of gum from the petrol station instead of your usual petrol or you might have purchased a work related item on eBay.

This is most likely an exception you’d like to better capture, however you don’t want Pocketbook to remember the new categorisation for future similar transactions. In this case, be sure to check the “Apply Only to this Transaction” checkbox when you altering the category.

Pro-Tip: If you make a mistake, don’t worry. There’s a “Bulk Edit” feature on the web version of Pocketbook where you can correct things quickly.

8. Create sub-categories to further sharpen your spending analysis

Sometimes you want to get finer with categorisation. E.g. for the Kids category, adding sub-categories like “School Fees” or “Excursion” or “Uniforms” can help. Pocketbook allows users to do this today, in fact there is no limit to how many categories or sub-categories you can create.

For web users, the way to create a sub-category is by using the format “Category – Subcategory” (using a dash when adding a new category).

Pro-Tip: You can view your sub-category spending breakdowns in Analyse via the web. Just click on the top level category in the pie-chart and the chart will zoom in to show you the sub-categories.

9. Email us if you have any questions

We’re always just an email away. If you have any questions, concerns or comments, just click here and drop us a line.

10. Stay on top of Pocketbook product updates

The Chinese have a wonderful greeting for new years – “Gung Hey Fat Choy!”. Instead of happy new year, they say “wishing you all the riches!”. For us at Pocketbook, we have the same lofty aspirations for your 2016. We want to make it a standout year for you. We will be releasing bigger and better features which I can’t wait to share with you.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and we will update you with the latest and greatest throughout the year.

We hope you all the best for 2016. See you inside Pocketbook!

Netflix is the new king of Australian TV subscriptions for digital natives

EDIT: We have adjusted our claims that Netflix is the leading subscription service today compared to Foxtel upon learning that business customers contribute to only 1% of their 2.8m customer base. We believe it is unlikely that Netflix has already achieved a total user base of 2m+ in Australia. However, given the nature of our sample, we believe our research is an accurate lead indicator for the impending direction of Australian consumer behaviour at large.

Since our Netflix research in July 2014, we’ve seen significant industry changes in the subscription TV sector in Australia over the past 10 months.

After publication, our research caught significant attention from the major the players in the market. A domino effect ensued, including a public appeal from Quickflix CEO against geo-dodging, our data being publicly quoted by the Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull at a major conference, a subsequent price-drop from Foxtel, and the eventual launch of Presto TV and Stan into the market.

Meanwhile, our estimation that the population of Australians using Netflix via VPN services being more than the 150,000 first estimated by pay-TV executives was confirmed in September by an independent piece of research by Choice Magazine.

All this was a pre-cursor to the launch of Netflix in Australia in late March.

Now that we are a month into the new subscription service, we wanted to again take a look at Australia’s love-affair with Netflix, and if the latest market changes have affected where our money is going. As well as respond to some of the already published data on daily site visits and brand awareness, aggregating de-identified real consumer purchase data.

Continue reading…

Pocketbook for Apple Watch

Last week, Apple officially launched Apple Watch at its Spring Forward Event after teasing the world last September. In the words of Tim Cook, it is the “most personal device” they have ever created. While time will tell if the Apple Watch will ultimately be as ubiquitous as Apple’s other products, the company’s focus and heavy investment may well prove to redefine the smartwatch segment as they have for mp3 players and mobile phones.

Here at Pocketbook, we pride ourselves in giving you, our users the most relevant insights about your money, in the simplest means. When we started Pocketbook over 2 years ago, we thought a web version was the solution – no one would want to manage their money on a mobile phone. How wrong we were looking back now… Over the past 24 months, you have voted with your fingers, and today the majority of usage is on our iPhone and Android apps.

Continue reading…