Financial pressures ease but debt worries loom

2 min read

The financial pressures burdening Australians have eased slightly in the past two years with more people able to balance the budget and have a bit spare for extras, according to the latest BT Australian Financial Health Index.

The nationwide survey of 4450 Australians presents a revealing insight into the personal financial health of the nation and the behaviours and attitudes that allow some to prosper and leave others battling to stay financially afloat.

Overall there has been a decline in the number of Australians struggling to meet basic living expenses and able to spend on additional items such as a car and travel. However there are pockets of distress particularly amongst those earning between $50,000 and $75,000 and aged from 25 to 44, worried about their ability to meet loan and credit repayments.

The results of the survey also highlight the link between financial good health and emotional and physical wellbeing with those who score low on the financial health rating suffering from poor sleep, relationship difficulties and general lack of overall physical fitness.

BT General Manager Superannuation Melinda Howes said the most encouraging finding in the survey was the increase in the number of young people, aged 18 to 24, taking an interest in their superannuation and seeking other forms of investment.

“Typically thinking about retirement savings has been the domain of the over 55s,” said Ms Howes. “With superannuation, the earlier you start to save the more you benefit from the benefits of compound interest. With many young people feeling that they are being locked out of the property market by high prices, it is heartening to see they are finding other ways to achieve financial security.

“Generation Rent have realised that there are other ways to secure their financial future.”

Ms Howes said this positive attitude was reflected in personal financial health ratings where there had been a significant increase amongst the under-25s and over-45s but a decline amongst those aged from 25-44.

Since the first BT Australian Financial Health Index was released in 2013 there have been gains in attitudes to saving and money management with increases in those who regularly save and complete a budget.

The number of Australians with a regular savings plan has increased from 43 per cent to 48 per cent and the number who complete regular budgets has risen from 40 per cent to 51 per cent. 

The ability of Australians to meet unexpected expenses has increased slightly since the 2013 BTAFHI but countering this is a rise in concern about meeting debt and credit repayments. Below are some the key findings from the 2013 and 2015 reports