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How’s your financial wellbeing?

When it comes to financial wellbeing, Australian seniors are happier than the average Australian adult.


An ANZ survey of 3,578 adult Australians found those aged 65 years and over enjoy higher financial wellbeing than younger Australians, with a “score” of 71 versus a national average of 59.

The report, Financial Wellbeing: A Survey of Adults in Australia, looked at three main areas in scoring financial wellbeing:

  • The ability to meet financial commitments;
  • The extent to which people felt comfortable with their current and future financial situation; and
  • Their ability to cope with a significant unexpected expense or fall in income.

Those who fell into the “no worries” category recorded a financial wellbeing score of 80-100. This was achieved by 43 per cent of Australians in the 65-69 age group and 44 per cent in the 70-plus age group, compared to 25 per cent of survey respondents overall.

But scores for senior Australians varied. While some seniors are concerned about their investment portfolios and changes to franking credit policy, others are struggling to stay above the poverty line.

Another 39 per cent of 65-69 years and 37 per cent of 70-plus years were “doing okay” and 15 per cent of 65-69 years and 12 per cent of 70-plus years were “getting by”.

But six per cent of 65-69 years and seven per cent of 70-plus years were “struggling”, compared with 13 per cent of respondents overall.

According to the report: “Older people in the ‘no worries’ category were more likely to be living in a couple household; had financial advice from their parents when they were growing up; were less likely to have a disability or long-term health condition; and were less likely to ever have been divorced from a long-term partner.”

In investigating what could contribute to financial wellbeing the report considered the impact of five main areas: economic factors, such as home ownership and stability of income (32 per cent); behavioural factors (47 per cent); social factors, such as whether their parents discussed money, and a disability or long-term health condition (eight per cent); knowledge, such as product knowledge or experience (0 per cent); and psychological factors such as high confidence in money management (13 per cent).

RMIT Professor Roslyn Russell says: “Knowledge doesn’t contribute anything to financial wellbeing. It’s the skills that are coming up as being more important.”

The three most important behaviours or skills associated with greater financial wellbeing were “not borrowing for everyday expenses”, “active saving” and “spending restraint”.

Active saving builds a buffer into someone’s budget for unexpected expenses.

“We’re finding that rainy day savings is actually a really important type of savings – much more important than what we used to give it credit for,” says Professor Russell.

Some of these behaviours are a product of today’s seniors being shaped by significant events such as the Great Depression and World Wars.

According to the report, “Through such times, attitudes of frugality were ingrained and, although financial hardship was prevalent, financial resilience was generally high. Salaries or wages were mostly predictable and having one career was typical and rewarded, making it easier to work towards long-term goals. Credit products were less prevalent, so saving became a behaviour that was necessary and ingrained from a young age. Mortgages generally comprised a lower proportion of income and therefore home ownership was an achievable goal for many.”

However, the report says, “Over time these benefits can be offset by the ageing process and other factors that have the potential to disrupt and lower financial wellbeing and capability.” Cognitive decline, chronic pain, social isolation, and difficulty in adapting to digital technology can also all have a negative impact on financial wellbeing.

Want to see more? You can download the ANZ Financial Wellbeing report here.