Low savings, high debt impacting lives

Low savings, high debt impacting lives

Four in 10 Australians feel they’re not living their preferred lifestyle – often because of money problems.

A Financial Planning Association of Australia survey of 2,635 adults found that only 23 per cent of respondents believe they are ‘living the dream’.

Another 37 per cent said they are living the dream to a certain degree, while 40 per cent said they weren’t living the dream.

When asked what ‘living the dream’ meant to them, 57 per cent said having the lifestyle of their choice, while 54 per cent said having financial freedom and independence.

The other results were:

  • Having safety and security = 49 per cent
  • Owning a home = 41 per cent
  • Having a family = 41 per cent
  • Pursuing hobbies and interests = 40 per cent
  • Having no regrets = 38 per cent
  • Freeing up time with those I love = 38 per cent
  • Setting myself up financially for retirement = 37 per cent
  • Travelling the world = 36 per cent
  • Having a plan for the future = 29 per cent
  • Completing my bucket list = 21 per cent
  • Excelling in my current career = 21 per cent
  • Having an impact on my local community = 11 per cent
  • Pursuing a new career = 8 per cent
  • Having an impact globally = 8 per cent

Money a leading cause of stress

For those respondents who weren’t living the dream, 48 per cent of them said it was because they had a low bank balance.

Not enough time was nominated by 28 per cent of those respondents, while debt was nominated by 26 per cent.

The other results were:

  • Illness or poor health = 21 per cent
  • Too many responsibilities = 20 per cent
  • Age = 18 per cent
  • Lack of self-belief = 18 per cent
  • Poor decision-making = 18 per cent
  • Poor career choices = 15 per cent
  • Broken family relationships = 14 per cent
  • Poor planning for the future = 14 per cent
  • Not enough support from others = 12 per cent
  • Not enough friendships = 11 per cent

Happy people have minimal financial stress

Financial Planning Association chief executive Dante De Gori said those who are living the dream have the lowest levels of financial stress of all Australians.

“The survey shows that more than one in three are not at all stressed about their finances, compared to 11 per cent of those not living the dream,” he said.

“Just 9 per cent are extremely stressed about their finances, which is true for 26 per cent of those not living the dream.

“Our financial struggles are often exacerbated by our aversion to planning. By identifying our life goals, hopes and dreams – and putting in place a financial plan to get us there – we can reduce stress and work towards making our dreams a reality.”

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Learn more about savings accounts

What is a savings account?

A savings account is a type of bank account in which you earn interest on the money you deposit. This makes it one of the easiest and safest investment tools.

Can I overdraft my savings account?

A lot of savings accounts won’t let you overdraw. Some will allow this feature but you’ll need to apply first. It’s best to read the fine print and check with your lender whether this is a feature they offer. It can be a helpful addition, but as your lender can charge you a fee as well as interest for going into negative numbers, it’s best to avoid overdrafting when possible.

Can you have a joint savings account?

Yes. Joint savings accounts can be useful for two or more people wanting to combine their savings to meet shared financial goals, including spouses, flatmates and business partners.

Some joint savings accounts require all parties to sign before they can access the money. While less convenient, this extra security can help encourage all parties to meet their shared financial goals.

Other joint savings accounts allow any of the account holders to access the money. These accounts can be convenient for financially responsible couples that trust one another implicitly. 

How do I open a savings account?

Opening a savings account is a relatively simple process. If you’ve found an account with a suitable interest rate, you’ll just need to get in contact with your chosen lender via a branch, phone call or hop online to begin the process. 

You may be required to provide:

  • Personal details, including identification (driver’s license, passport etc.)
  • Tax file number
  • Employment details

How to open a savings account for my child?

Some banks and financial institutions allow parents to open a bank account for their child as soon as it is born, and start depositing funds to go towards the child’s future.

Children’s savings accounts generally don’t have fees, and are structured to help develop positive financial habits by limiting withdrawals, encouraging regular deposits, and earning interest on the savings, similarly to standard savings accounts.

Can you set up a savings account online?

Yes. Several large and small banks offer online applications for savings accounts, and there are also online-only financial institutions to consider.

Online-only savings accounts are often less expensive than other savings accounts, though they may not offer the same flexibility, features, or face-to-face service as more traditional savings accounts.

Who has the highest interest rates for savings accounts?

As banks frequently change their rates, the most accurate way to know who currently has the highest interest rate is to use a savings account comparison tool.

How does interest work on savings accounts?

The type of interest savings accounts accrues is called compound interest. Compound interest is interest paid on the initial deposit amount, as well as the accumulated interest on money you have. This is different from simple interest where interest is paid at the end of a specified term. Compound interest allows you to earn interest on interest at a higher frequency. 

Example: John deposits $10,000 into a savings account with an interest rate of 5 per cent that he leaves untouched for 10 years. At the end of the first year he will have $10,512 in savings. After ten years, he will have saved $16,470.

What is the interest rate on savings accounts?

As banks frequently change their rates, the most accurate way to look at interest rates on savings accounts is to use a savings accounts comparison tool. When you look at the savings rate check what the maximum and minimum rates are. Often banks will offer you a promotional rate for the first few months which is competitive, but then revert back to a base rate which can sometimes be less than inflation. Ongoing bonus rates are often a safer bet as they will keep rewarding you with the maximum rate, provided you meet their criteria

Can you set up direct debits from a savings account?

It’s not usually possible to set up a direct debit from your savings account to cover ongoing expenses or bills, as savings accounts are structured around growing your wealth by earning interest on regular deposits, and discouraging withdrawals.

Some transaction accounts allow you to set up direct debits and also earn interest, though you may not enjoy as much flexibility as a dedicated transaction account, or get as high an interest rate as a dedicated savings account.

Can you direct deposit to a savings account?

Yes. You can make one off payments or set up regular direct deposits into a savings account. This can be organised easily through online banking or by making deposits in a branch. Talk to your lender to find out the easiest way for you to set up direct deposits.

What is a good interest rate for a savings account?

A good rule of thumb to keep in mind with savings accounts is to look for a rate that is higher than the CPI inflation rate. This number is constantly changing, so check the Reserve Bank of Australia’s page. If you aren’t earning interest above this then the value of your money will go backwards over time.

How to make money with a savings account?

Savings accounts make you money by earning interest on your savings. The more money you deposit, the longer you leave it in the account, and the higher the account’s interest rate, the more interest you’ll be paid by the bank or financial institution, and the more your wealth will grow.

To make sure your savings account makes money and doesn’t lose money, it’s important to maintain a large enough minimum balance that the annual interest earned exceeds any annual fees charged on the account.

How much money should I have in my savings account?

A good rule of thumb when working out a minimum balance for your savings account is to make sure that you’ll earn more in annual interest on your savings than what you’ll be charged in annual fees.

If you’re saving with a specific goal in mind, prepare a budget so the interest you earn on your deposits will help you efficiently reach this goal. Online financial calculators may be helpful here.