How ‘going woke’ can help save dollars in the cost of living crisis
When you look at some of the biggest price increases over the past year, a theme starts to emerge: from coal- and gas-fired energy to petrol, meat and ultra-convenience, many of them are products that were already on the nose with conscious consumers.
While your average jet-setting, carnivorous V8 driver is being belted by the cost of living right now, vegetarian cyclists are having a relatively easier time.
In many ways it’s now cheaper to be woke in this cost of living crisis. Here are some examples.
Meat becomes a luxury
Today is day two of “No Meat May”, a 10-year-old campaign that promotes vegetarianism and an end to factory farming.
The cost of living crisis is making their job easier this year. Research they commissioned from Perspectus Global found that:
- 61 per cent of consumers surveyed are considering eating less meat
- 37 per cent are already buying less meat to save money, and
- 81 per cent would eat less meat if it would save them one-third off their shopping bill.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics says meat has only gone up by four per cent in the past year, less than dairy (15 per cent) and fruit and vegetables (five per cent).
But there’s no doubt veges remain a lot cheaper than meat — especially choice cuts such as fillet steak and lamb cutlets.
In fact, research suggests a vegetarian diet is up to 32 per cent cheaper and can cost over $1100 a year less per person.
Lancet research showed a “typical western diet” cost up to $68 a week per person, compared to $57 a week for flexitarians, and $46 a week for vegetarians.
Gas on the nose
Wholesale gas prices have tripled since 2020 because of a “perfect storm” of factors: high international prices, a rebound in demand after the pandemic, and then the invasion of Ukraine.
Last year the government capped wholesale prices in order to bring them back under control and this week they extended the cap to 2025.
In the meantime, household gas bills went up about 18 per cent last year and they’ve already gone up 14.3 per cent in the first three months of 2023, including a 22 per cent increase in Victoria.
Meanwhile, the cost of solar hardware continues to drop by around 20 per cent each year, according to the International Energy Agency.
Solar hardware costs, 2015-2021
Rooftop solar will generate more electricity than coal-fired power from this month, when AGL closes its Liddell coal plant in New South Wales, according to SunWiz.
More than 3.4 million Australians have a rooftop solar system, with the rate of new installations running at roughly 300,000 a year — and their power prices have barely risen.
Petrol at a premium
The quarterly price of Unleaded was up 11 per cent from $1.64 a litre last March to $1.82/L this March, according to the ABS.
Diesel was worse, up by 18 per cent from $1.65/L to $1.94/L on average.
EV drivers haven’t exactly had it easy though, with electricity up by around 20 per cent over the past year.
But if they’re charging at work or using their solar panels, they’re laughing all the way to the bank (where they’re probably still paying off the $60,000-plus cost of the car).
Travel in general is a lot more expensive. Car prices skyrocketed during the pandemic as new cars were hard to come by and used car prices shot up by 65 per cent and have barely come back down to earth.
Airfares went through the roof mid-last year as fuel prices rose and airlines with labour shortages cut the number of flights after struggling to cope with post-pandemic demand.
One of the biggest increases in prices in the first three months of this year was domestic holiday accommodation, which was up by 4.7 per cent as Australians hit the road again and demand surged.
Really, the only way to avoid these soaring prices are to stay home, catch public transport, or ride a bike!.
The end of cheap convenience
We’re also seeing an end to the spate of super-cheap and super-convenient services that sprung up over the past decade when money was cheap.
With less venture capital funding to go around, start-ups such as Milkrun — which promised 15-minute grocery delivery but was losing around $10 per delivery — have gone kaput.
Uber fares have risen — there was a 13 per cent increase last year, for example – as have rates at Airbnb, Marley Spoon, Koala and other brands.
It’s been called the end of the “millennial consumer subsidy” as interest rates went up around the world and start-ups had to start cutting staff and charging more to try and stay afloat.
Derek Thompson wrote in The Atlantic last year:
“For the past decade, people like me – youngish, urbanish, professionalish – got a sweetheart deal from Uber, the Uber-for-X clones, and that whole mosaic of urban amenities in travel, delivery, food, and retail that vaguely pretended to be tech companies.
“Almost each time you or I ordered a pizza or hailed a taxi, the company behind that app lost money. In effect, these start-ups, backed by venture capital, were paying us, the consumers, to buy their products.”
But the party’s over. Welcome to the era of user pays. And pays. And pays.
This advice is general and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider whether the advice is suitable for you and your personal circumstances and seek advice from a broker or adviser before acting.