Cost of Living Crisis: Aussies More Stressed About Finances Than During Pandemic

Australian households are at breaking point when it comes to finances, with a staggering 78% expressing extreme or significant stress about money.

New research by leading comparison website Finder shows Australians are more stressed than they were at the onset of the pandemic, as stress levels have jumped from 68% in 2020.

Finder’s Cost of Living Pressure Gauge evaluates the economic strain experienced by households across the country. The findings show 37% of homeowners and 44% of renters are grappling with challenges in meeting their housing expenses.

Australians are more stressed about finances than they were during the pandemic. Credit: supplied.
Australians are more stressed about finances than they were during the pandemic. Credit: supplied.

This alarming trend occurs against the backdrop of an annual inflation rate of 5.4%, the highest since 2011, and the Reserve Bank of Australia’s cash rate target of 4.35%. To provide context, annual inflation was recorded at 0.9% in November 2020, while the RBA’s cash rate target was significantly lower at 0.10%.

Graham Cooke, the head of consumer research at Finder, underscores the severity of the cost of living crisis, emphasising its profound impact on individuals nationwide. He notes that the November 2023 reading of the Finder Cost of Living Pressure Gauge, standing at 79%, is indicative of the considerable strain experienced by Australian households.

“Despite a slight decline from the May 2023 peak of 85%, current levels remain considerably higher than most of 2020 and 2021,” Cooke said.

“As households look to stretch their budgets further, this affects their ability to create a decent savings buffer to protect themselves from further pressure.”

For those seeking ways to navigate financial challenges, Cooke recommends identifying areas to cut back without compromising basic needs.

“Our gauge’s results show a stark reality – rising costs, housing stress, and the reliance on credit cards for financial management are putting millions under the pump,” he said.

He advises households to explore options such as refinancing or switching energy providers, emphasizing the potential for significant savings by actively comparing alternatives.

It comes after a survey conducted by uncovered an alarming trend, with roughly 12% of Australians, roughly equivalent to 2.4 million individuals, admitting to resorting to theft over the past year as they grapple with their financial constraints.

About 5% of Australians have turned to stealing items while utilising self-checkout facilities at supermarkets. Additionally, 4% have confessed to deceiving self-serve check-outs by intentionally misrepresenting the items they’ve scanned.

Another survey found 10% of Australians, equivalent to a substantial 662,000 households, have either recently moved back in with their parents or welcomed an adult child back into their own homes over the past year.

The research conducted by Finder integrates data from its Consumer Sentiment Tracker (CST) and the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA). The analysis encompasses various factors, including housing stress, salary expectations, and household debt.

Mibenge Nsenduluka

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