Ripped off on power prices, hammered on car service bills, beaten up on house prices and getting no wage rises – you’ve got to wonder why researchers are surprised when they find we’re not rushing to the stores to spend.

Apparently, consumer sentiment slipped to its lowest in more than a year in August as worries over family finances swamped increasing optimism about the economic outlook.

Here at Really Simple Money, we loved “shrinkflation” the best – the art of shrinking your favourite brands and charging you the same price for less – Tiny Teddies, Heinz baked beans, they’re all at it, according to The Austalian Financial Review.

And so the Melbourne Institute and Westpac published a survey of 1,200 on Wednesday and found consumer sentiment fell 1.2 per cent in August.  That’s the measure of our confidence in the economy. When we’re comfortable, we spend. When we know we’re being ripped off, we don’t.

Here at Really Simple Money, we’ve harped on about wage growth for months.  Well, it’s running at record lows, apparently.

Another survey of Sydney and Melbourne families found unaffordable housing is at the top of the list of concerns – even in western Sydney, where some feel prices are relatively affordable compared to the rest of the city. 

Perhaps the biggest surprise was the very real anger among younger voters, unable to buy a home.

Foreign investors and immigrants are being blamed in a rather nasty and unfortunate outbreak of anti-foreigner sentiment.

Ipsos research director Laura Demasi, who moderated the Sydney groups, observed: ‘‘ Housing affordability was the number one issue that cut across age, gender and political leaning.’’

There was ‘‘absolute consensus on housing affordability being the number one issue for them personally – themselves or their children”

Back on the consumer front, it’s been a week in which we’ve discovered a lot about the way big business treats its customers.

Australia has the world’s highest energy prices – which is why the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called in the power chiefs to give them a lecture.

Their favourite trick is to lure you in with a cheap plan and then default you into an expensive one.  Nice, right? And you thought they were on your side.

The Australian Financial Review revealed that car servicing plans have a margin of up to 64% in Australia.   According to the ACCC, this accounts for their biggest post bag of complaints – 10,000 in 24 months.

We loved the story of the female driver who had a gear box default.  Ford told her to “drive more like a man.”

Have a good week!

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