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Challenge your spending habits
By Tammy May

Wasted consumptionThe Aussie credit card bill has reached nearly $50 billion. Much of this debt has been racked up buying consumer goods that go to waste.

In a 2004 study, the Australia Institute found that on average we are wasting about $1200 a year on items purchased but never used:  "This is approximately equal to one month’s repayments on an average Australian home mortgage. Total wasteful consumption amounts to over $10.5 billion dollars annually spent on goods and services that are never or hardly ever used. By way of comparison, this amount exceeds spending by Australian governments on universities and roads."

Consumer culture is all about new and more. This is what feeds the never-ending desire to buy, spend, accumulate and churn! The result is extravagant waste. And not just a waste of money. Take the average cotton t-shirt...

Cotton crops are usually mechanically irrigated and heavily treated with chemical pesticides and fertilisers. The machines that harvest cotton run on oil-derived fuel, as do the trucks that transport the raw material to textile plants and onto garment manufacturers. The machines that cut, sew and print the fabric use coal-burning electricity. The plastic bag in which the shirt is placed contains petroleum products. The airplane or ship that delivers it to Australia and the courier van that drives it to a retail outlet also run on petrol or diesel. Then there is the human cost. Garment factory workers in places such as Bangladesh often live and work in dangerous, miserable conditions.

There are so many good reasons to challenge our spending habits. Do we really need more stuff? Do we always need new stuff?

Reduce wasted consumptionThat’s why MyBudget is running the Buy Nothing New Challenge* again this year. It’s an opportunity to say no to spending and yes to saving, recycling, swapping, repairing, borrowing and buying second-hand.

It’s never too late to join. If you accept the challenge, please keep us updated about your progress on the MyBudget Buzz Forum. We plan to share client comments on the blog later this month.

*Food, medicine, hygiene products, bus tickets etc. are exempted from the challenge. A second-hand toothbrush might be kind of nasty!

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