Rising cost-of-living pressures are forcing some Australians to live paycheck to paycheck, some to take stock of their financial reserves and others to compromise on their dreams.
Despite the inflationary bite, or perhaps because of it, many of those who can afford it are saving madly, according to consumer tracker Finder.
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Research by the comparison site shows that the average adult has $39,439 saved or enough to live on for 19 weeks in case they lose their job today.
That’s a 75 percent increase from six months ago, and the amount tends to rise after four successive Reserve Bank cash rate hikes.
Finder money expert Sarah Megginson believes that cash is king during a recession.
“Australians are dramatically increasing the amount of cash they have stashed away to offset the spiraling cost of living,” she says.
“Consumers are concerned that high levels of inflation and rising interest rates are leaving them vulnerable and, where possible, are stocking up on cash to weather the storm.”
With high-interest savings accounts offering rates of more than 3.10 percent and time deposits even higher, the RBA’s cash rate hike to 1.85 percent is bad for borrowers, but it’s a good news for savers, especially for the boys.
Research shows that men, on average, have much larger reserves than women: $52,786 compared to $26,132.
However, setting aside money for a rainy day is not a priority in everyone’s personal finance strategy.
Of more than 1,000 Australian adults surveyed on behalf of Money.com.au, 51 per cent felt they would buy a new car in the next 18 months, as long as they didn’t have to wait for delivery.
July sales were more than 10 percent below historical averages due to vehicle and component shortages, according to the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries.
However, 59 percent of 18-34 year olds said they would be willing to enter the market for a new set of wheels by 2024 in the absence of future supply chain issues.
In the same age group, 39 percent said they would buy a used car if the waiting list for a new one was longer than six months.
“While the choice to buy a new vehicle depends on your financial situation, savings, and general usage of the car, it’s important to remember that it’s a depreciating asset,” says financial advisor Helen Baker.
“Younger Australians are likely to be more willing to buy a used car for this reason, as they may not have the funds accumulated for a large purchase or may be prioritizing other purchases or investments such as their first property.”
However, at the long end of the scale, there are plenty of Aussies who make it more difficult.
Of a separate national batch of 1,000 Finder research subjects surveyed in June, nearly one in five (19 percent) said they had had a transaction declined at the counter in the past three months.
Eleven percent have had to abandon a purchase after falling short at the checkout and eight percent have had to return some items to the shelf in order to pay for their store.
Some 37 percent rank groceries among their three most stressful expenses.
Consequently, more than one in three Australians experience food insecurity, according to the 2021 Foodbank Hunger Report.
Exorbitant bills, low income, rent or mortgage payments, and declining savings are the main reasons.
Meanwhile, the rising cost of living is also having an impact on Australia’s skills shortage with a new survey revealing low-paid electrical trades apprentices are on the verge of quitting.
Completion rates for Sparkling Youngsters stand at 52%, which according to the National Center for Vocational Research, compares to 57% for apprentices and apprentices in all trades who started in 2015.
The Electrical Union’s survey of 642 currently working electrical apprentices shows that more than 37 percent have already considered launching it.
A third named low wages or living expenses as their main difficulty, saying their salary was not adequate to cover necessities such as food, travel and housing.