Many Aussies 'financially unfit': survey

Almost a third of Australian women and a quarter of men are classed as financially unfit, despite improvements in the economy, a survey shows…

Nearly 28 per cent of those surveyed had an over-reliance on debt, little or no regular savings, no insurance coverage and high housing costs relative to income, the second annual Bankwest Financial Fitness Index revealed.

The survey showed the benefits of the economic recovery have yet to be felt by many Australians, with six per cent more people now classified in the most serious category of financially unfit, up from 22 per cent last year during the financial crisis.

Just over one-third of Generation Y continued to struggle with their finances over the year, with 34 per cent declared financially unfit, according to the index.

“Despite the market rebound and signs we’ve shrugged off the worst of the global financial crisis, our research shows even more Australians are doing it tough and struggling to manage their finances,” Bankwest spokesperson Adrian Bradley said.

“While there has been a recovery, the market and super funds, a major form of wealth for many Australians, are still well down from the pre-GFC (global financial crisis) highs of November 2007.”

A majority of Australians, 69 per cent, said 2009 had been a difficult year for them financially, the online survey of 833 Australians across all states, territories and age groups found.

About half of those surveyed reported borderline financial fitness, which included moderate savings, some insurance, average housing costs and moderate debt levels.

Just 22 per cent were classed as financially fit, with regular savings, a range of insurance, low housing costs and high asset levels relative to debt and income.

The resource-rich state of Western Australia is home to the greatest proportion of those financially fit citizens, with 36 per cent of residents fitting into the category.

Meanwhile, Queenslanders are the least financially fit, with 18 per cent placed in the category.

Retirees aged over 64 were financially the fittest generation, with 35 per cent being financially fit and only 15 per cent classified as financially unfit.

Some 30 per cent of Generation X were “unfit,” while the rate of financially unfit baby boomers increased by 10 per cent in the past year.

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Source Bankwest / Financial Services Online

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