2024 Bill Stress Index: How worried are you about your bills?

Cost-of-living pressures are mounting on us all, and the anxiety is building, according to Compare Club’s 2024 Bill Stress Index. But for most older Australians the picture is not quite so bleak.

Turn on the news and you’ll be greeted by headlines decrying high inflation, rising interest rates and the price of household staples.

Households right across the nation are under increasing financial stress, struggling to make ends meet, and it seems to be affecting all age groups.

These were the findings of Compare Club’s 2024 Bill Stress Index, a nationwide snapshot of not just the financial situation of millions of households, but also how they feel about that situation.

The index found pressure (and the resulting stress and anxiety) is mounting on virtually all sectors of Australian society.

That is, except one – Australians aged 55 and over, who for the most part are reaping the benefits of the current economic climate. But those benefits don’t always translate into financial peace of mind, as the index shows.

How stressed are Australia’s seniors about their bills?

Overall, Australians as a whole are pretty worried about being able to meet their financial obligations with more than 80 per cent of all respondents reporting high levels of bill stress (rated as level 4+ out of 5).

But break down responses by age group and the picture gets a little different. Just 32 per cent of those aged 55 and over reported high bill stress and 21 per cent even said bills gave them little to no stress (rated as 1 out of 5).

The age group immediately preceding them, the 45-54-year-olds, had only 5.5 per cent of respondents with little to no bill stress.  

What bills are they stressed about?

Older Aussies may be less stressed about bills as a group, however roughly one third of them are still having trouble making ends meet.

When this group was asked which bills in particular they are most worried about, 44 per cent said utilities bills, 32 per cent were having trouble with general insurance premiums and 21.5 per cent were worried about their health insurance.

Interest rate rises have been lifting monthly mortgage repayments, which has younger groups stressed. But this older cohort is far less likely to still hold a mortgage, and so are far less likely to worry about housing costs as a result.

What is their financial situation like?

It should probably come as no surprise that most people in the 55-plus age group are in a better financial position than younger people.

About 40 per cent of over-55s described themselves as either ‘comfortable’ or ‘very comfortable’ financially and 41.5 per cent said they ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ get stressed over bills.

But at the other end, 13 per cent of over-55s said they were struggling to make ends meet. Sixty-six per cent said they had cut back on non-essential spending, while 37.5 per cent said they had cut back on essential spending as well. 

Paying bills

Almost one-third (28.5 per cent) over over-55s said they regularly paid their bills late.

The use of credit to pay off outstanding accounts has also exploded, with bills paid through Buy Now, Pay Later schemes up 46 per cent and personal loans for covering bills up a staggering 266 per cent since November last year. 

Seeking financial advice

With answers like these, you’d think the prudent thing for the over 55 age group to do would be to get some financial advice. Unfortunately, Compare Club found this age group is actually the least likely to seek out professional finance advice.

A shocking 69 per cent of this group said they have never received financial advice, compared to 34 per cent of wider population.

But of those who were willing to get advice, 11 per cent said they got it from family members, 9.5 per cent from their bank and 8 per cent from friends.

Do you worry about being able to pay bills? Which one gives you the most concern? Let us know in the comments section below.

Also read: How to save $6000 on your energy bills

Brad Lockyer
Brad Lockyerhttps://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/author/bradlockyer/
Brad has deep knowledge of retirement income, including Age Pension and other government entitlements, as well as health, money and lifestyle issues facing older Australians. Keen interests in current affairs, politics, sport and entertainment. Digital media professional with more than 10 years experience in the industry.
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