Your biggest financial concerns heading into 2022

The price of groceries tops the list of Australians’ financial concerns heading into 2022, according to the Canstar Consumer Pulse Report 2021.

For most people, the past two years have been financially stressful. The pandemic and lockdowns led to mass job losses and strained (or bankrupted) businesses and households.

After the shocks of 2020 and 2021, many are understandably concerned about what lies ahead in 2022.

Canstar’s report is an annual snapshot of the financial health and confidence of Australian consumers. This year’s results show families are most concerned about cost of living pressures and will be adopting a ‘back-to-basics’ approach to 2022.

Read: Cost of retirement rising again, putting pressure on budgets

“Canstar’s report findings show that everyday living costs are hurting the hip pocket of Australians. Prices are rising faster than wages, making it tougher to put food on the table and fuel in the tank,” says Canstar financial services executive Steve Mickenbecker.

“The good news is that Australians are less concerned about job security and energy costs, with both issues knocked further down the list of concerns in 2021. This is likely due to the falling national unemployment rate falling this year from 6.4 percent in January to 5.2% in October and with energy prices also trending downwards.”

Canstar found Australians were most concerned about the price of groceries (14 per cent), petrol prices (11 per cent) and the cost of rent (10 per cent).

The proportion of those surveyed who said they feel they’re living within their means was 66 per cent – a drop from the 73 per cent recorded in the 2020 survey.

Read: The surprise factor driving up your cost of living

It appears the pandemic has also slashed the household savings of Australians. The report found the median amount held in savings was around $5000, which represents a sharp drop from the $15,000 in average savings reported in 2020.

At the same time that savings dropped, personal debt was up. Around 29 per cent of Australians are carrying some form of debt outside a mortgage, which is a slight increase on last year.

But where debt really jumped was in the amounts owed. The average amount owing in personal debt is sitting at $46,020 per person, a jump of more than 52 per cent on last year’s figures.

Canstar found credit cards remain the leading source of personal debt, with debts associated with buy now, pay later (BNPL) schemes coming in second.

Read: More older Aussies will need to tap into savings and home equity

“The proportion of Australians with debt only slightly increased by 1 per cent, but those who are carrying debt owe a lot more than a year ago, spiking by nearly $16,000,” Mr Mickenbecker says. 

“While credit cards remain the biggest debt culprit, a growing number of Australians are accruing buy now, pay later debt, and it’s not just the younger generations either.

“Canstar’s results show 27 per cent of Gen X and one in 10 baby boomers with debt outside of a mortgage owe money on buy now, pay later, reflecting an ongoing shift away from plastic towards interest-free payment plans.”

Did your savings take a hit in 2021? Or did you make it through relatively unscathed? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Written by Brad Lockyer