Spending and debt, Australia's biggest test

Concern about the national economy is driving a lack of confidence in Australians' ability to achieve greater financial outcomes in 2017.

According to new research commissioned by St. George, about 70% of Australians are worried about their finances, with 55% attributing the concern to the current state of the Australian economy. A further 44% blamed housing affordability as the cause of their unease, while 42% cited their level of household debt.

The study was undertaken in December and surveyed 1000 Australians, finding that saving is the top priority (34%) this year, while 25% are hoping to minimize their debt. More than 20% of respondents said their main focus for 2017 was simply 'staying afloat.'

The findings show demographics most anxious about their overall financial health last year were those aged 18 to 24 and 45 to 54, saying they feel they need to save $5000 to $10,000 this year to achieve their financial objectives.

Those aged 25 to 44 are aiming to save more than $30,000, while over-65s reported a desire to save between $1000 and $5000. In turn, 55.9% of respondents said creating a financial plan and tracking their spending would help them in reaching their goals.

The research shows that the biggest test for Australians trying to increase their savings is their ability to cut back on discretionary spending (39%), followed by getting debt under control (29%). Preserving a particular lifestyle throughout retirement and saving for a house deposit were also cited, both by 28% of respondents respectively.

St.George general manger for retail banking, Ross Miller said the beginning of the New Year is a great time to re-evaluate finances and commit to making positive financial goals.

"It's positive to see all age groups said creating a budget and sticking to it will help them achieve a better financial outcome in 2017. Once the festive season is behind you, it's time to take a fresh look at your 2016 finances and with a bit of planning and budgeting, 2017 could be a financially rewarding year," Miller said.

Read more: AustraliaAustraliansNew YearRoss MillerSt. George
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