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Pressure on to spend despite rising costs

Research suggests one in five Australians spend more than they can afford due to peer influence. (AAP)

Despite a major surge in cost-of-living pressures, Australians are overspending to keep up with friends and family, researchers say.

A national poll of 1000 adults by consumer comparison site Finder reveals 47 per cent feel pressure from within their social circle to keep pace financially.

One in five, or the equivalent of 4.3 million people provided the findings are accurate, concede going into debt or spending more than they can afford due to peer influence.

Apparently, it isn't just trivial purchases either.

Some 28 per cent of respondents said they felt forced into splitting restaurant bills despite ordering less, while nine per cent 'had to' fund a bucks or hens night and seven per cent felt obliged to fork out for someone else's baby shower.

However one in seven said they'd been coerced into an expensive holiday with loved ones, and eight per cent even admitted buying cars, homes and designer goods to keep up.

Personal finance expert Kate Browne says while no one wants to be a party pooper, there are more affordable alternatives.

"You can always be honest with your loved ones and say while you value spending time with them, you don't want to spend too much money doing it.

"At the end of the day, it's your money and you get to decide how you spend it."

On average, men estimate they've overspent more than $1500 over the past six months and women more than $900 to appease friends and family, with millennials apparently most vulnerable to the trap.

Meanwhile, the cost of essentials keeps rising.

Separate research by consumer networks Frugl Grocery and One Big Switch shows fruit and vegetable prices at some major supermarkets are up five per cent on a year ago.

Drinks are 7.7 per cent more expensive and pantry items, five per cent.

One Big Switch also cites a 12 per cent jump in regional rents and predicts a 4.1 per cent annual increase in daycare fees over the next four years.

However Finder's latest Consumer Sentiment Tracker indicates one in four people agree fuel is now their most stressful cost, up from 17 in January and 11 per cent a year ago.

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