The Cost Of Looking Good

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

How much is your appearance costing you?

Big question, right?

Not exactly, actually. While, in our looks-obsessed culture, that might sound like a particularly blunt and confronting line of interrogation – conjuring up nightmares of lost opportunities and squandered job interviews flunked because you decided to wear a white shirt instead of a blue one – it’s meant in a purely practical sense.

How much do you think you really spend on your appearance?

You see, Suncorp Bank released a report from their series of studies into Australia’s Cost of Living. It reveals some interesting statistics about Australia’s spending preferences around fashion and appearance. And, as a result, gives us an opportunity to reflect upon our own management of our clothes, cosmetics and cash.


Now, some of you may be tuning out

After all, not all of us would like to think of ourselves as being especially focused on our appearance. You may even take pride in the fact that you don’t care about your appearance.

But, whether you consciously do so or not, you’re always investing in your appearance in some way. You could have a collection of work clothes for the office, you may regularly need to shave or use a moisturiser with your shower. Frankly, until we finally evolve into that glorious utopian ideal wherein we’re all naked and naturally beautiful at every second of the day, we’re all going to be spending some money on our appearance. You might be surprised how much.

For example, Australians spend over $100 billion a year on looking good. According to Suncorp’s survey, it’s likely that Australians aged 18-64 spent a collective eight billion dollars on our appearance in the past four weeks alone. This translates to an individual average of nearly $600 a month. And, while some of you may still be thinking that applies to others and not to you, you should know that the majority of us (60%) mainly bought clothes. Which, unless you’ve cracked onto a lifestyle we haven’t figured out yet, is probably something you use and need daily. 

There are, of course, some differences as to our spending habits and priorities, from person to person. A monthly investment in cosmetic enhancements like teeth whitening and tattoos ($193), for example, costs significantly more than a monthly investment in clothing ($139). If you’re a man, you’re more likely to invest in clothes for corporate attire and the aforementioned cosmetic enhancements than a woman. If you’re a woman, you’re more likely to spend money on hair care, cosmetics, clothing and skin care products. If you’re aged between 25-34, meanwhile, you’re spending more time and money on your appearance than Australians of any other age.


What does all this mean, though? What do we do with this information?

Well, we can use it to help save money on our fashion expenses (and save money in general, for that matter). If there’s something we can take away from that interesting set of budget statistics, it’s that we aren’t fully aware of how much we are or aren’t spending on fashion and aesthetics. Now, granted, we’re not exactly in the worst place. After all, better to accidentally spending under-budget than over. But, it still speaks to a certain ignorance of our own spending habits and financial situation. And, if you want to save money (and most all of us do), knowledge is power – knowledge of one’s own habits and knowledge of the habits of others.

So, with this information, you can reassess your own priorities and take this opportunity to examine your own fashion spending habits. Are you spending more than the average? Or less? If you’re spending less, where is that extra money going? Could it be doing something more useful? Could it be going towards something more fun? If you’re spending more, is that necessary? These are all questions you can use to guide yourself towards more savings and more money. After all, according to Suncorp’s findings, 37% of Australians think fashion is a waste of money. If you’re one of them, you could be saving money by getting strategic about that opinion.

If you’ve never had a budget before, this could even be a good place to start. It’s never too late. We’ve even got a little guide.


How do I save?

Even if you’re well aware of your spending habits, you could be saving money in a more creative way. Namely, time. In addition to surveying how much money Australians spend on their appearance, Suncorp also investigated how much time goes into everyone’s appearances. For example, women spend an average of one hundred minutes on personal grooming at home (e.g. hair, nails, skin, tooth care and cosmetics). Men, by contrast, only spend sixty minutes. On average, Australians spend more than three hours a week taking care of their appearance. And, while that isn’t much in the grand scheme of things, it’s yet another field wherein you can assess your own standards and priorities. Could you be using your time differently?


To read Suncorp Bank’s full report of spending and time management habits, simply see here.