93% of Aussies admit to wasting money on non-essential items

47% of all Aussies also claim they feel financial stress, as a result of purchasing items that they don’t really need

The vast majority of Aussies are living with an excess of unnecessary items in their homes, leading to discontent, stress and financial struggle, a recent UBank study has revealed.

Following a study of more than a thousand Australian renters and home owners, the research commissioned by UBank discovered that not only do 93% of respondents claim they have, at least occasionally, wasted money purchasing non-essential items, but 83% also felt they were living with items that were no longer even being used. The most common items listed by all demographics were unwanted clothing, unused DVDs/CDs and abandoned kitchen appliances.

Lee Hatton, UBank CEO, said “Most of us, in our lives, have purchased something beyond our needs, or beyond our means.”

“The results of our research highlight the importance of being able to evaluate our living situation and financial decisions honestly.”

Lee Hatton, UBank CEO


“Assess what we really need rather than simply buying what we think we want so that we don’t get into unnecessary debt or stress,” said Hatton.

Interestingly the study also revealed that two-thirds of Australians would be happier if they were able to rid themselves of unused items which were cluttering up their homes. This statistic jumps up to 73% in the 30-39 age group demographic, with 72% of respondents in this bracket also claiming that seeing these unused items around their home serves as a reminder of bad decisions they have made throughout their life.

The primary reason given for not removing extraneous items, by almost 50% of those polled, was that they felt they may still need them one day, suggesting people are hoarding a lot of unnecessary belongings in Australia.

The research coincides with UBank’s rebrand and the launch of a TV documentary, entitled ‘All I Need’, that follows two households as they work with a number of leading experts to help de-clutter their life and reassess what they want vs what they really need, with the goal of improving their happiness in the process. 

These experts include Psychologist Jacqui Manning, Professional Organiser Jo Carmichael, and award-winning Architect Brad Swartz who specialises in making the most of the space we have in our homes.


“When I reviewed the statistics, what struck me was the alarming amount of people, almost a quarter of the country, who said they had gotten themselves into debt as a result of the unnecessary purchases made and the 47% who claim their unwanted purchases led to financial stress.”

Psychologist Jacqui Manning


For some, the problem of unwanted clutter could seriously effect financial and personal change with 22% of those polled claiming that the amount of unused items in their house makes them want to move to a bigger house while another 12% claim to have enough unwanted items in their house to free up an entire room. 

The research found clearing the clutter could also have a serious impact on the wallet, with almost a third of Aussies sitting on more than $1,000 worth of unwanted items.

Ms Hatton added, “We encourage our customers to take another look at the life they are leading, particularly when it comes to the debt they are taking on. It’s about asking the important financial questions – could you borrow less for your home or buy less unnecessary items and still live a happier life? We believe that the answer is yes.”


“This is a rare question to come from a financial institution but, at UBank, we believe in giving customers just what they need from a bank, nothing more.”

Lee Hatton


Non-essential items

• 92.5% of all respondents claim that they have, at one point or another, spent money on non-essential items. This is classified as something that is a ‘want’ as opposed to a ‘need’.

• The purchase of non-essential items is most prevalent among the 18-29 demographic due to their more disposable income with 34.3% claiming they do this often while, at the other end of the scale, only 9% of the 60+ demographic admitting to doing it often.

• In terms of the value of these items, 91.9% were estimated to be valued at $1,000 or less.

Non-essential item usage

• Almost half (49.7%) of all respondents claimed that clothing was the most common non-essential item they would purchase and not get any use out of. Females were far higher (65.7%) in this regard than males (36.4%).

• Unwanted kitchen appliances were the 2nd most common response, at 33.1%. This response was quite consistent across all demographics and states.

• Males were more likely to purchase unwanted technology (20.8%) as opposed to females (6.7%).

• Participants from Adelaide were far higher (at 34.5%) than any other city to say they purchase books which they do not get use out of.

• When asked if purchasing unused items had ever got them in debt, it was the 30-39 age group who claimed it had with 35.1% claiming that this had happened at some stage, either often (7.1%) or occasionally (28%). Participants from Brisbane also claimed this happened to them far more than any other city with 32.7% claiming they were in debt at some stage as a result of purchasing non-essential items.

Emotional reactions as a result of extraneous items

• 71.5% of those aged over 60 claimed they were never financially stressed as a result of buying non-essential items, placing them at the lowest by far of all demographics. However, 46.7% of all respondents do claim that they feel financial stress at some stage.

• 58.6% agreed that removing unused items from their homes would be a weight off their mind. This jumped to as high as 69.2% for the 30-39 demographic. In this same demographic, 71.8% mentioned that seeing these unused items were a reminder of bad decisions they had made.

• Almost half (49.6%) of all respondents mentioned that they couldn’t bring themselves to get rid of unused items in their homes, with Adelaide residents spiking up to 60%. However, 65.6% of all did concede that removing unused items would make them feel happier.

• By far, the most common response to why participants would keep their unused items is that they might need them one day (45.6%). This response spikes in the 50-59 age group (56.5%) and is more common among females (49.9%) as opposed to males (42%).

• When asked how their home would improve if they removed unused items, the most popular response by 34.9% of those polled was that it would feel more spacious. This was a more popular response in females (39.4%) than males (31.2%) with Perth being the city that rated this as the most popular response.


The research was conducted by the Online Research Unit (ORU) on behalf of UBank. 1,007 Australian adults were involved in the survey from across the country and the research was conducted during December 2015. 

Media contact:

Stuart Henshall
T: 02 8281 3872
E: stuart@pulsecom.com.au