SERIES: The cost of living in… Toowoomba

Welcome to the first instalment of our ‘cost of living’ series, where we will be exploring the cost of living in different cities and towns all around Australia.  To start us off, our own Director Chris Black has broken down the cost of living for his family of five in our beautiful town of Toowoomba.

Who: Chris Black (financial planner), his wife Alisha (clinical psychologist) and their three boys: Joe, Harry & Jack

Where:Toowoomba, QLD


Tell us about the cost of living in your town.

It’s bloody expensive to be alive, let alone feed and water a family of five! For those who don’t know, I have a wife (on maternity leave) and three boys under five. We live in Kearney Springs, enjoy camping, sports events, coffee with the family every Saturday morning and the usual activities.

With increases to the costs of living such as electricity, water, rates and groceries I see so many clients living week-to-week and not really getting ahead.  Given my role as a financial planner, I wanted to share my biggest annual living expenses (not including financial or tax commitments) as sourced from the Fortress Wealth Hub which are:

Category Cost (/ year)
Groceries  $11,035
Children / child care (for just two boys – the third starts soon!)  $10,680
Savings for the boys’ education  $9,750
Health & medical (we had our little boy Jack through a private hospital this year)  $9,013
Utilities  $6,147
Personal insurances  $6,079
Holidays  $4,987

Plus our other expenses came to a total of…. $83,789!


What do you think of about the cost of living in your town?

That total blew me away and I thought that I was good with my money!

The next thing we tell you is my excuses, such as: one-off medical expenses with young Jack, or that one-off holiday.  However, I tell my clients that they should be saving / investing / paying down debt at 20% of your gross salary.

For example, if as a family you make $100,000, you should aim for $20,000 surplus. As shown, it is easier said than done! But if you want to tidy things up, and understand your position to make turn things around, you have options and we can help.


What do you recommend?

1. Understand where your expenses are going

Use bank statements, credit card bills, excel spreadsheets or talk to us about an automated tracking solution. If you don’t know your expenses, how can you improve?

2. Identify what you can cut out and what you need

Start with things like Foxtel or gym memberships that you aren’t using.  You can also increase your insurance excesses (this makes your premiums cheaper) and shop around your car and house insurances (ring them up on renewal and ask for a better deal!).

3. Develop a budget

Use calculators, or software (I use our Fortress Wealth Hub, of course!), sub accounts or whatever works. Just make sure you are spending less than you earn, and you are saving a surplus (hopefully 20%).

4. Stick to the budget

Develop a goal and make sure you monitor your progress. Ask your partner to help keep you in check (and vice versa) and set a reward for making positive changes. Ensure that your bank accounts are consistent with your goals and savings patterns.

HINT: Having the wrong banking structures or accounts can hold your progress back. There is no ‘one size fits all solution’ but don’t be afraid to change things if they aren’t working.

5. Do something meaningful with the surplus funds

Pay down your home loan, salary sacrifice to super, start investment funds for education, build an investment portfolio or even donate to a charity.  Don’t forget to look ahead – are you set for retirement?  Have you worked out how much you will need to live the life you want in later years?  If you need help with goal setting, or calculating costs in retirement, talk to a financial planner.

If you don’t know where to start, jump on the internet and look at the awesome tools at MoneySmart or if you want a fully automated online solution, have a look at our Fortress Wealth Hub.

Ultimately your wealth will be derived from investing your surplus cash flow. If you don’t have any, it will be hard to generate any real wealth over your lifetime.  Don’t delay; the earlier you can start, the greater the results!


We’d love to hear from you!  To book a free consultation to improve your position, please contact us on or book online.

Written by Chris Black, Director of Fortress Financial Solutions


Information on this site may be regarded as general advice. That is, your personal objectives, needs or financial situations were not taken into account when preparing this information. Accordingly, you should consider the appropriateness of any general advice we have given you, having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs before acting on it. Where the information relates to a particular financial product, you should obtain and consider the relevant product disclosure statement before making any decision to purchase that financial product.

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