Growing cost of living pressures are forcing some Australians to live hand-to-mouth, 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 who can afford it are saving wildly, according to consumer tracker Finder.
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Research by the comparison site shows that the average adult has $39,439 or enough to live on for 19 weeks if they lose their job today.
That’s a 75% increase from six months ago, with the amount trending higher after four successive Reserve Bank cash rate hikes.
Finder cash expert Sarah Megginson thinks cash is king in a downturn.
“Australians are dramatically increasing the amount of money they have stashed away to offset the spiraling cost of living,” she says.
“Consumers are worried that high levels of inflation and rising interest rates will make them vulnerable and where possible they are hoarding cash to weather the storm.”
With high interest savings accounts offering rates above 3.10% and term deposits even higher, the RBA raising the cash rate to 1.85% is bad news for borrowers but good news for savers , especially guys.
Research shows that men on average have much larger reserves than women: $52,786 versus $26,132.
However, saving money for a rainy day isn’t at the top of everyone’s personal finance strategy.
Of more than 1,000 Australian adults surveyed for Money.com.au, 51% felt they would buy a new car within the next 18 months as long as they didn’t have to wait for delivery.
According to the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, July sales were more than 10% below historical averages due to vehicle and component shortages.
Still, 59% of 18-34 year olds said they would be willing to enter the market for a new set of wheels by 2024 absent future supply chain issues.
In the same age group, 39% said they would buy a used car if the waiting list for a new one was longer than six months.
“Although the decision to buy a new vehicle depends on financial situation, savings and overall use of the car, it is important to remember that this is a depreciating asset,” says financial adviser Helen Baker.
“Young Australians are probably more willing to buy a used car for this reason, as they may not have the funds for a major purchase or may prioritize other purchases or investments, such as their first property.”
On the long run of the scale, however, there are plenty of Aussies doing things harder.
Of a separate national group of one thousand Finder search subjects surveyed in June, nearly one in five (19%) said a transaction had been declined at the counter in the past three months.
Eleven percent had to abandon a purchase after a checkout miss and eight percent had to put some items back on the shelf to pay for their store.
Some 37% rank groceries among their three most stressful expenses.
As a result, more than one in three Australians are food insecure, according to the Food Bank’s Hunger Report 2021.
Surprise bills, low income, rent or mortgage payments and lower savings are the main reasons for this.
Meanwhile, the soaring cost of living is also impacting Australia’s skills shortage with a new survey finding low-paid electrical trades apprentices are being pushed to the brink of quitting.
Completion rates for young sparks sit at 52%, which the National Center for Occupational Research says compares to 57% for apprentices and interns of all trades who started in 2015.
The Electrical Trades Union’s survey of 642 currently working electrician apprentices shows that more than 37% have already considered starting it.
A third named low pay or living expenses as their main difficulty, saying their salary was not enough to cover necessities such as food, travel and accommodation.