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CSO launches new Household Budget survey campaign

The results of the CSO’s Household Budget Survey, which is used to gauge spending habits, are to be released on an annual basis from next year.

The data from the HBS, which is carried out by the Central Statistics Office, also helps to measure inflation and determine the cost of living in Ireland.

The CSO has launched a new campaign to raise awareness of the changes to how the information will be collected.

From this week and throughout the year, more than 6,000 households around the country will be randomly selected to take part in the survey and track their spending for 14 days.

Each member of the household aged 16 and over will be asked to record the details of their day-to-day expenditure over a two-week period in a “Spending Notebook” provided to the participants.

The CSO said collecting every receipt and documenting all spending during the “14-day challenge” is very important and a member of the CSO interview team will be on hand to provide support and information.

The details collected will give the Central Statistics Office better data on the types of items being purchased, the percentage of incomes spent on bills or groceries and changing buying habits.

Ger Doolan, Senior Statistician in the CSO Social Data Collection Division, said the information is “crucial to help us accurately reflect the cost of living in Ireland”.

He said another advantage to taking part is that “each household will get a better sense of where their money is going and promotes better spending awareness.”

“While only certain households will be selected for the HBS, we would encourage everyone to take note of their daily spending for 14 days to give them greater awareness of where they are spending their money,” he added.

According to Mr Doolan, previous participants said they got “a better sense of their spending habits and given the impact of inflation on food, heating, and other outgoings, the challenge is timely.”

“Every item that you spend your money on needs to be included such as the big shop at the weekend, utility bills, children’s activities, gym membership, phone and TV costs, as well as the cup of coffee bought at the garage when you are filling up the car, or that impulse buy at the till such as a bar of chocolate or a packet of chewing gum,” he said.

The data, which is anonymised, also gives the CSO better information on what goods and services should be included in the National Basket of Goods, which is used to calculate the Consumer Price Index.

The CSO said the 600 items in the basket of goods will be updated next month and then on an annual basis to accurately reflect current spending habits.

Ger Doolan said the HBS was previously collected once every five years.

“The need to provide more timely information on how people spend their money means it will now be collected throughout the year,” he said today.

“This change in the collection method for the HBS and a planned update in February 2024 to the items included in our National Basket of Goods, which is used to calculate the CPI, means we can better understand the impact of inflation and accurately track changing spending habits,” he explained.

The CSO said one person who took part in the last household spending survey said: “I knew I was spending almost €20 a day on a pack of cigarettes and a coffee on the way to work but writing it in the diary helped me realise that this amounted to more than €5,000 a year. As a result, I am cutting back and will put the money towards a holiday instead.”

Another householder who participated previously said: “Looking at my receipts helped me identify how much junk I was buying, so now I intend to stop all that, to save money, and lose weight.”

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