Savings: are you better or worse than the average Aussie?

A new survey has discovered that Australians are saving more now than any time since the 1980s. It turns out that factors such as net worth and income play a huge role in how much we stash under the mattress each month, as does your age and household behaviour.

 

The average Aussie now saves $427 per month (according to a recent Suncorp survey), which is more than at any point since the 1980s.

Between the 1970s and early 2000s, savings rates of Australian families reduced due to easy access to credit, falling real interest rates, rising asset prices, rising household income and high household confidence.   By 2003, Australians weren’t saving enough for a vegemite sandwich.

Then financial crisis hit, causing a strong resurgence in savings (thank goodness!) As might be expected, households’ savings tend to increase with income, but decrease with wealth and gearing. The average now suggests that Aussies are saving around 12% of their disposable income.  Financially constrained and migrant households tend to save more than other households (all else being equal). While saving differs substantially across age groups we find that, this does usually reflect differing circumstances.

household income

 

Age

The Suncorp survey found that younger Australians, aged 25 to 34, are killing it at saving: $533 a month on average.  How they spend their savings however is cause for concern.  Many young Aussies are not saving enough for retirement due to prioritising saving for emergencies and large purchases like real estate or holidays.  This doesn’t leave much left to save for retirement, which seems a problem for the ‘distant future’.

A more detailed Reserve Bank discussion paper (2014) also found that Aussies save less between ages 35 and 45.  This is understandable as middle-aged households are usually paying off mortgages and supporting children, leading to much higher costs of living during this ten-year period.

savings

 

Net worth

Unsurprisingly, wealth and income significantly affect our ability and propensity to save.  The richest 20% of households save nearly 15% of their disposable income, double the average.

Interestingly though, the effect of owning a home outright depends on age. For the young, it’s associated with higher rates of saving and probably has a lot to do with personality, rather than a pure ‘wealth effect’.

Older households, on the other hand, show a decreased tendency to save if they own their own home. That’s probably down to feeling a greater amount of financial security, which reduces the desire to save for emergencies.

savings by wealth

 

Income

The savings gap between rich and poor is even more extreme when separated by income: the top 20% of households save 25% of their income, compared to negative 26% for the lowest income earners.

This is surprising as you would expect a household’s level of income should not affect their saving ratio (since households with high income would also have high consumption). International data supports this: as countries grow richer, household incomes trend higher but saving ratios do not. In Australia however, higher incomes do correlate with higher savings.

savings by income

 

How do you stack up?

Comparison may be the thief of joy, however knowing what everyone else is saving can be empowering.  If you are falling seriously short of your savings goals, it may be worth having a professional analyse your spending habits, check your tax strategy and ensure your retirement goals are on track.

To book a free consultation to improve your position, or get your savings goals on track, please book online or contact us on info@fortressfs.com.au 
Fortress Financial Solutions founder Chris Black is an award-winning financial planner based in Toowoomba who specialises in superannuation, investing, business succession, cash flow management, retirement planning and personal insurances (including life insurance, income protection, total permanent disability and trauma insurance).
Corporate Authorised Representative of Magnitude Group Pty Ltd ABN 54 086 266 202, AFSL 221557.This article originally appeared on InvestSmart.com.au
All images taken from RBA Research Discussion Paper: Household Saving in Australia by Richard Finlay and Fiona Price.

 

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