One in three Aussies 'not living the life they want'

More than one-third of Australians (38 per cent) are not living the life they want, according to research commissioned by money expert and author Vanessa Stoykov.

The leading reason – perhaps not unsurprisingly – is because money is tight (58 per cent), followed by relationships not delivering the happiness expected (20 per cent).

People from New South Wales and Victoria had the highest levels of life satisfaction (63 per cent and 62 per cent respectively) compared to people who lived in Queensland (56 per cent), and the sentiments were similar across genders.

Unsurprisingly, the higher the household income the more likely people were to say they were happy with their life. For example, only 43 per cent of those who earned under $40,000 said they were living the life they wanted compared to 77 per cent of those with an income of at least $120,000.

Read: Happiness becoming more expensive and out of reach

Almost one in two (49 per cent) said they were trying to improve their situation by saving and budgeting hard to afford a better lifestyle, and another 20 per cent said they were prioritising their own happiness instead of always putting others first.

Ms Stoykov says she has experienced firsthand how money affects happiness.

“This research highlights how many Australians are feeling the same,” she says. “The pandemic has added yet another level of stress to people’s finances, and people were already struggling pre-COVID. However with restrictions easing, today really is the time to start taking action.”

Read: Electrifying your life could save you thousands

She says people may be exhausted after the past few years, but taking action doesn’t have to mean major life changes.

Even small and simple adjustments can lead to significant benefits, she says. For example, anyone who received cash from loved ones for Christmas might use half to pay down debt and put the other half towards an experience.

“Whatever your personal situation is, I encourage you to stop thinking about how your financial situation is holding you back, and instead shift your mindset to focus on how money can help you live your dream life.”

Read: What to do if you can’t pay a bill

Ms Stoykov offers these tips to help people create the life they want:

  1. Visualise how you want your future to look. Make it a habit to sit down with your partner and talk about what brings you happiness, what you want your future to look like, and what your ambitions are.
  2. Create a laundry list. Once you know what you want your dream life to look like, create a list of the barriers that are stopping you from living that dream.
  3. Take action to break down those barriers. Go through that list and devise a plan together to tackle each of the issues.
  4. Do the maths on how much those actions cost and get creative on how to recoup the costs. There are thousands of side hustles you could take up to generate the funds spent on outsourcing tasks you hate.
  5. List your priorities and timelines to achieve bigger goals. When choosing longer-term goals, make sure you create smaller stepping stones, for example how much do you need to put aside each year to reach a goal.
  6. Celebrate and reflect. Every six months, check in on what has worked and what hasn’t, so you can get realigned.
  7. Talk to your family and friends about it. Money is often a taboo topic, but it doesn’t have to be. By talking about how you are using money to bring your dreams to life, it might help others feel less trapped by their finances and motivate them to take steps to create a happier life too.

Vanessa Stoykov has more than two decades of experience in the wealth creation space and is a finance and money expert.

Are you living the life you want? Have you mapped out what you need to do to get closer to your preferred life? Why not share your ideas in the comments section below?

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