Australian consumers are likely to cut back on discretionary items in 2021 with many re-evaluating their spending habits following the COVID-19 pandemic, new research has revealed.

Recently released survey results from 1,000 consumers, which have shown 48 per cent of respondents want to better manage their money by reigning in spending on discretionary items during the first six months of the new year.

The findings highlighted a silver lining from the pandemic is Australians are starting to engage with their finances with three in 10 Aussies now looking to either start or maintain a budget.

More consumers are actively questioning their needs versus wants at the checkout, and according to the latest research, aligning their financial behaviour accordingly.

It is encouraging to see many Australians seeking out ways to build a financial buffer, whether that is by having a staycation, cooking more at home, or swapping the gym for outdoor exercise.

The survey results also showed despite the recession technically being over, Aussies are still concerned about the economy, with many looking to pay down debts in the new year to protect themselves from future economic shocks.

Paying off interest-accruing debt also proved high on Australians’ list of new year money resolutions, with one in five planning to pay off their mortgage faster. Meanwhile, 17 per cent of consumers resolved to tackle credit card and personal loan debt, the results showed.

Not only are Australians looking to pay down debt, consumers are actively trying to find ways of saving money with 50 per cent of survey respondents said they were planning to spend less on travel over the next six months.

While the start of a new year is often associated with getting fit, the research found gym memberships are on the chopping block with almost four in 10 Australians planning to cut the costs of working out.

Despite life returning to some level of normality, our research shows the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact Australian’s spending. For instance, the closure of gyms at the height of social distancing restrictions caused many Australians to invest in a home gym or complete workouts online. It seems some of these habits are carrying over well into the new year which can spell good news for our wallets.

Other major areas that consumers are likely to spend less on include gambling, toys and games, takeout and delivery including Uber Eats and Deliver, alcohol and cigarette consumption and skincare and make-up.

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