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Cost of living crisis: How much harder do parents have it?

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It's official: new Finder data shows families have it tougher than any other group right now.

Things are tough right now, so let's start with the good news: inflation is falling. In the latest quarter, inflation fell to a two-year low of 4.1%.

93% of the economists we survey every month believe the cash rate has peaked, though most economists think interest rates won't fall until later in the year.

Stressed families

Unsurprisingly, it's families who are struggling the most. Every month, as part of our cost of living guide, Finder asks over 1,000 Australians which bills are causing them the most stress.

Only 7% of parents said they had no bills causing them stress. 19% of non-parents, which includes singles and couples, said they didn't have any bills causing them stress

In other words, 93% of family households are feeling stressed about a bill. This is equivalent to around 6 million Australians.

The most stressful bills

45% of parents said they are most stressed about paying the mortgage or rent, compared to 31% of people who are not parents.

It's a similar story with credit cards.14% of parents say their credit card bill is their most stressful expense. compared to 9% of non-parents.

Groceries are closer. 29% of parents say they are worried about paying for their weekly shop and 28% of non-parents.

"Childcare is my family's biggest expense after our mortgage repayments," says Finder money editor Richard Whitten. "Even with a decent subsidy."

"And that's just for a single child attending a fairly standard private daycare centre 3 days a week."

Parents being hit the hardest

A couple with children spends an average of $258 a week on grocery shopping, according to our Consumer Sentiment Tracker – $78 a week more than a couple.

Our data also found that 30% of parents have received an unexpectedly high energy bill in the last 12 months compared to 22% of non-parents.

"I can definitely relate to high energy bills – with a family of five, we run our dishwasher once or twice daily, at least one load of washing a day and everyone showers daily," says mother of three Sarah Megginson.

"Add in air-con in the hotter months and our energy bill can easily exceed $1500 for one quarter."

Parents are also much more likely to use buy-now-pay-later platforms. The average parent has used it 3.3 times in the last 6 months. Non-parents have used buy-now-pay-later an average of 1.5 times.

Finder's money expert Rebecca Pike says it's unsurprising families are the ones struggling the most.

"Automatically as parents you have all these extra costs to contend with," she says.

"Whether it's groceries, childcare costs or the extra cost in bills from having more people in your home, the higher cost of living has caused some serious financial strains.

"It's unfortunate to see so many turning to credit cards and buy-now-pay-later to afford the cost of having a family. But further than that, there's the emotional strain that comes with worrying about your family's financial security."

Pike adds that for parents dealing with rising costs it's important to take the time to look at where your money is going and areas you can save.

"Families are likely stretched thin as it is, but combing through your expenses can help you pinpoint areas to cut back.

"When it comes to grocery shopping, it's a good idea to make a list before you go. Take a look at the online shop and see what deals are available, then plan your shop around that. If it's feasible, shopping late at night also means you might pick up some great deals on meat or fresh produce.

"Make sure you compare your energy and utility providers every few months to see if you can save money there. Many providers will give new customers introductory offers which you can jump between."

Looking for ways to save? Our parenting hub can help.

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