Homeowners forced to work 3.6 weeks per month just to pay their mortgage

If it feels like you’re working all week long just to end up with nothing to show for it, then you might be right, with new data showing a single-income household spends 3.6 weeks, on average, working each month just to pay the mortgage.

According to Canstar, homeowners trying to pay off an average home loan of $584,836 and earning an annual salary of $72,000 need to work 135.34 hours, or 17.81 days, in the month just to afford their $3883 monthly loan repayment.

The news is not much better for a dual-income family, with each person required to work 8.9 days per month to cover the mortgage.

Not surprisingly, NSW borrowers fair the worst in the country, needing to spend 21 days each month for single-income families and nearly 11 days for those on a dual income.

Victorians need to work 18 days for single-income families and nine days for dual incomes, while QLD (18 and 8) and Tasmania (16 and 8) also had to spend a huge portion of the week working to afford a mortgage.

Conditions were best in the Northern Territory where single income families only needed to work 12 days per month or as low as six days for dual-income households.

Canstar’s Editor-at-Large and money expert, Effie Zahos said Australians need to devote an exorbitant amount of their working hours to cover their household bills.

“It goes to show that it’s near impossible to service the average-sized loan in today’s climate with only one income,” Ms Zahos said.

“Borrowers paying off an average-sized loan on their own need to work about 135 hours or close to a full month to cover their mortgage repayments each month

“That means 82 per cent of their monthly working hours go towards their mortgage, which doesn’t leave much for other household bills and expenses.” 

She said the burden is lighter for households with two incomes with each person required to work close to 68 hours. 

“This is equivalent to 41 per cent of each person’s working hours being used to cover monthly mortgage repayments,” she said.

Canstar also found that the average household monthly grocery shop of $659 also requires single income households to work 22.97 hours or three whole days in the month to cover the cost. 

Households with two incomes would be able to cut this down to 11.48 hours or one and a half days of work for each person during the month. 

Similarly, the average monthly electricity bill of $162 would consume 5.94 hours worth of pay in the month for a single income household while dual income couples would be working for 2.97 hours each to cover the cost. 

Other household necessities such as the average monthly home and contents insurance premium of $187 would take up 6.52 hours – or close to one full working day – of pay in the month for those on a single income or 3.26 hours for each person in a couple. 

“Simply putting food on the table is a big pressure point for households with the cost of food and non-alcoholic beverages increasing by 7.9 per cent over the 12 months to May,” Ms Zahos said.

“Covering the cost of the average monthly grocery bill requires three days of work for someone on a single income and a day and a half per person for those bringing in two incomes. 

“Throw in electricity bills, home and contents insurance and car insurance, and for someone on a single income there clearly isn’t enough working hours in the day to pay for their household bills. 

Ms Zahos said when you combine mortgage costs and household expenses borrowers would fall 11.03 hours behind. 

However, a dual income household will still have 76.82 hours each per month up their sleeve. 

“Time is our most valuable asset and, unfortunately, the cost-of-living crisis is forcing households to spend most of their working hours on bills rather than investing it into things that make them happy,” she said.

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Rowan Crosby

Rowan Crosby is a freelance journalist specialising in finance and real estate.