Canstar reveals everyday bills, jobs are Aussies’ main worries

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Are parents obliged to help their children buy their first home? It seems 25 per cent of Australians believe they are.

Canstar’s fourth annual Consumer Pulse Report reveals that a third of millennials (aged 26 to 40) and 22 per cent of gen Z (aged 41 to 55) believe such support is to be expected, but only 14 per cent of baby boomers (aged 56 to 74 years) agree.

“You’ll find that parents don’t believe they have an obligation, but they have a capacity so will help anyway. It’s more, yes, I don’t owe you that as one of my offspring but I’m happy to do it,” said Canstar’s group executive of financial services, Steve Mickenbecker.

Assistance may be required if more people are to enter the property market, according to the survey, which shows 36 per cent of Australians expect house prices to grow at a steady pace in the next two years and a further 8 per cent predict prices will ‘skyrocket’.

“With so many people predicting property prices will continue to rise and one of the biggest financial concerns being the cost of rent, it’s little surprise that Australia agrees the appropriate age for adult children to remain living at home is age 33. The only group to suggest the stay should be longer is those currently living at home who said the age limit should be 43. Hopefully, this is to give themselves more years to save,” said Mr Mickenbecker.

He says Australians are in “survival mode” due to the coronavirus recession.

“Current financial concerns highlight peoples’ focus on sticking to the basics of putting food on the table and keeping a steady job in the year ahead.”

The main financial concern of those surveyed were the cost of groceries (12 per cent compared with 10 per cent in 2019) and the fear about job security (12 per cent vs 10 per cent in 2019). Concern about the cost of electricity and gas was down from the biggest concern to the third most prominent worry (9 per cent vs 14 per cent in 2019).

“This is the first time in four years that the cost of electricity and gas has moved from the number one financial concern for Australian households. Concerns around paying for groceries and job security have risen in the ranks this year in response to the devastating effects of the pandemic.” 

The reduced concern about utility bills comes despite Australia’s energy debt rising sharply.

The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) Annual Retail Markets Report 2019–20 shows a sharp rise in energy debt since March this year, with debt owed by small businesses growing from $35 million in March 2020 to $45 million in June 2020.

“This report really underscores the struggle it has been for many customers to get on top of their energy bills during the pandemic,” said AER chair Ms Clare Savage.

Measures taken to ensure customers were not disconnected have had a big impact, with 29 per cent fewer complaints to energy retailers from customers and 26 per cent fewer complaints to ombudsmen from customers since 2018–19.

Ms Savage told ABC radio that electricity and gas bills were usually the first pain points in tough times. She says the industry reacted well to the huge number of Australians forced to work from home during pandemic lockdown.

“We can’t have them at home without power …”

She said customers would only be disconnected in “limited circumstances” when they have not attempted to contact their supplier. More than 60,000 Australians took advantage of bill deferrals during lockdown.

Canstar’s take is a little different: “Households are now also seeing the benefits of recent market reform in the shape of lower bills made possible by intense price competition and favourable wholesale conditions.”

Ms Savage is concerned about the scheduled reduction of coronavirus payments such as JobSeeker in March, saying they would have a significant impact on energy customers.

Other key findings from the Canstar Consumer Pulse Report:

  • 50 per cent of Australians working from home during the pandemic have managed to save money.
  • 35 per cent of Australian women feel they are not living within their financial means or don’t know if they are, compared to 20 per cent of men.
  • 30 per cent of Australians have accessed their savings to cope in 2020.
  • 47 per cent of savers keep the bulk of their money in a savings account despite interest rates falling this year on average by 0.58 per cent.
  • saving for living costs such as groceries and electricity has overtaken holidays as the main expense people are saving for.
  • For the 28 per cent of Australians who have debt excluding a property loan, the average debt amounts to $30,188 per person, down 38 per cent year on year.
  • 46 per cent of Australians with debt excluding a property loan admit to missing repayments.
  • 47 per cent of Australians would consider using buy now, pay later services such as Afterpay and Zip Pay.

How well do you feel you have managed the financial stresses of 2020? Do you believe it will still be a tough road ahead? Have energy costs been a pressure point?

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Written by Will Brodie


Total Comments: 22
  1. 0

    “How well do you feel you have managed the financial stresses of 2020? Do you believe it will still be a tough road ahead? Have energy costs been a pressure point?”

    We’ve managed the financial stresses of 2020 quite well thanks to $3000 from the federal government and $500 fuel cards from the state government. More importantly, our super fund has weathered the storm quite and I can see a bright future ahead. Our energy costs have never been a problem because we were brought up to turn off the lights in rooms not in use, to use A/c sparingly, have a full load of washing as well as a full dishwasher before using the appliances. I am concerned about the NSW government’s latest Green policy about zero emissions as they promise cheaper electricity but won’t tell us how that will be achieved.

    • 0

      Hi Horace. Which govt gave the fuel cards ?? Was that NSW ??

    • 0

      Yes johnp, sorry about not showing that. The NSW government is also handing out fuel cards next year for eligible pensioners and applications are available from 18/1.

    • 0

      thanks Horace. Unfortunately we are in Qld.

    • 0

      Horace, I think it is quite obvious how the electricity will be cheaper, NSW is on a course to free themselves from the onerous debt of subsidising old dying Coal fired electricity generators by putting in a major upgrade of Renewable energy.

      Despite being a liberal, and not understanding the danger to Democracy of pork barrelling, she is aware, – as you should be, that Solar and Wind cost virtually nothing to run whereas her ‘mate’, Scomo thinks Gas, the which is more expensive than coal, is the answer.
      It is her state where the biggest gas fired electricity power station ‘in Australia’, had to close down because Coal was cheaper, – she is in a position to have that information, so the writing is on the wall, – “get out of having to subsidise coal fired power”.

      Your question is answered Horace.

    • 0

      Hi – what is the $3000 from the Federal government you refer to?

  2. 0

    46 per cent of Australians with debt excluding a property loan admit to missing repayments.
    47 per cent of Australians would consider using buy now, pay later services such as Afterpay and Zip Pay.
    Well there’s the biggest problem there. Further into debt, further into missing repayments which incur further interest and so it goes on.
    Not hard to set a budget plan & stick with it 90% of the time.
    Yes, unforeseen circumstances will play a part but this buy now pay later is a bigger trap which many people can’t get out of it once they start & don’t care about the huge interest rate that compounds especially when monthly payments aren’t met.
    The other thing about this report is how selfish & greedy some millennials (33%) are that they seem to put pressure on parents & most likely grandparents for a free hand out instead of working towards saving for a home deposit etc. Wonder how many of these live with the parents brigade actually pay board & contribute to utility, food bills etc or is that a free ride as well.
    Most on here have gone without & saved for what they have without any hand outs from parents or family.

    • 0

      My experience has been that it is usually the parents that create the problem by being too soft and wanting to be seen as supporting the kids when in reality they are creating a false reality in the long term.Not asking for board money might make the parent feel good but does nothing to make the child grow

  3. 0

    I’ve sold and bought a house, relocated interstate, and trying to buy what i need after downsizing. Left most of my furniture and effects behind. I’m managing, but not sure how long for. Have a small nest egg in the bank to hopefully offset future expenses. Only income is Age Pension. Not sure what the future holds, but am closer to family at least now.

  4. 0

    Well my attitude is this toward my offspring – I gave birth to you – I raised you – I gave you every chance required for you to have a good education to be able to get a good job.
    Now it is up to you to provide for yourself – just like I did!
    I didn’t get handouts or handups to get what I have – I worked and saved and went without to get there – it is called character building and self reliance – sadly very short on the ground today!
    This expectation that the oldies will empty their pockets for me so they can have their wants serviced doesn’t impress me – needs come before wants and if one of mine has a need then we will talk!

    • 0

      I’m totally with you Bridgit. I was eldest of 5, absolutely no handouts or help, even no baby sitting (I was widow with young child). I stayed single, worked my butt off, often 2/3 jobs, no o/seas holidays, bought dump of a small house, but have slowly made it my home & own it mortgage free. Everything I have is down to my sweat and bloody hard work. Now retired on pension, small amount in super.
      I provided my daughter with good education, and starters…small cheap little car, paid bond on her rental flat. Then she was on her own, till she got involved with total loser who convinced her, mum (me) should be more financially supportive. It was either say yes and ruin me financially, or say no and cause huge disharmony. When I cut off the mummy bank, that was the end of our relationship, now 22 years ago.
      Other family & friends tell me she & her hubby (sporadically employed) openly talk about “when daughter inherits mums estate”. They say there is little incentive to work and save when they will get a nice inheritance. Not if I can help it! So disappointing. It seems you are dammed if you do (help them) & dammed if you don’t.

    • 0

      Bridget, I like it, exactly my approach. With helicopter parenting and “I’m going to give them everything I went without” a generation has been raised that totally lacks resilience. Leaving home at 33?? I came from a safe home but couldn’t wait to leave home at 15 and I did. Never asked for a handout since.

    • 0

      I agree Bridgit, never had handouts from my parents and didn’t expect them either. While I am a renter all my bills are paid in advance and I manage fairly well on a pension + the super I get.
      I have helped my kids when I could but on the strict understanding that it was a loan and MUST be paid back. Except for this year so far everything has – not worrying too much about when or if they can repay me for the help this year as it is tough for nearly everyone job wise.
      None of my children expect to be left an inheritance and if I do manage to leave them something then they will be surprised but grateful for whatever it is.

  5. 0

    Well said Bridgit ,I have said the same to my children and they are happy, work hard as I did, and very little complaints

  6. 0

    I think you need to employ some proof-readers. Gen Z aged 41 to 55????

  7. 0

    Only been worried about ONE thing and that is the ‘bail in laws’.
    If banks go belly up and your savings are taken to prop up the bank, we are all buggered. There won’t be no bank of Mum and Dad to worry about.
    People are fools if they believe the government so called guarantee will protect them.
    The banks have been instructed by regulatory authorities to put aside money in the event of a bank getting into financial difficulties. ALL of them have refused to do this, twice. The other question you have to ask yourself, do you really think every bank has enough money to honour a guarantee of 250k in savings for every SINGLE depositer. Pffft! A so called guarantee Not worth the paper it’s written on.
    Yesterday a bill was introduced into parliament seeking the written assurance that savings would be protected. You better hope the backbenchers finally speak up, if not then that mongrel Turnbull has ensured your savings are gone.

  8. 0

    There have been a few stresses this year but because I am not allowed to travel overseas (to visit friends in Asia and Europe) I have saved quite as lot of money because I live simply and have no debt (apart from the monthly credit card payment – paid in full so that no charges other than the annual fee are incurred). I own my own house and been debt free for more than 25 years. I have taken no superannuation from my SMSF so will have to take 2.5% of the value late in 2020/2021 – that will add to savings. I received two government payments and will receive two more (a significant portion of this money has been and will be donated to others in need).

    I have tank water for toilets/laundry and garden and minimal energy costs (solar panels on the roof and evaporative cooling rather than air conditioning and an energy efficient house so utilities bills are relatively low and affordable to me.

    • 0

      If you have Evaporative Cooling how much water are you using for it? I know a family who let the water that dripped onto the roof run into their rainwater tanks. It definitely wasn’t drinkable. The thing I have found is the price increases is the cost of basic food (no luxuries). I only buy seasonal fruit and vegetables and not the expensive types. Groceries I usually buy the cheapest brands (store’s own brands) if the ingredients are good. They are made by major companies anyway. When I was working I would often see invoices with both company brand and stores own brands on the same invoice.

  9. 0

    Our three children are totally self sufficient, own their own homes and never reliant on us for money. We are pensioners and spend $600 a fortnight on bills and food. Have our own home have a small super and save the rest of our pension. They keep telling us to spend what we have and they don’t need to be left anything. We are very lucky to have such a blessed lifestyle but have worked all our lives to be in this position.

  10. 0

    Still living with Mum and Dad at age 43?
    Throw in a couple of kids?
    Sounds fun!!

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