With the cost of living having increased significantly this year alone – thanks to a rise in health cover, energy prices and mortgage rates – new research reveals the extremely tight spot Aussie households could be in if they get into financial distress. A new survey shows 57 per cent of respondents (equivalent to 5.4 million households[1]) are only able to cut back up to $500 a month in living expenses if needed, including 25 per cent (equivalent to 2.4 million households) who can only sacrifice up to $200.

The research comes from an independent, nationally representative panel of 1000 Australian adults[2], commissioned by leading insurance comparison service comparethemarket.com.au, which explored how much at risk Australians are of financial disaster if they were unable to work due to injury or serious illness.

Of the respondent pool, 67 per cent earn up to $5000 a month after tax; 70 per cent also have household expenses of up to $3000 a month[3]. Worryingly, 29 per cent of respondents reported knowing someone who could not work for at least three months due to critical illness or injury suffered outside of work.

The survey also revealed that the generation in their final decade of work find it harder to cut expenses than younger age groups, with 65 per cent of 55 to 64 year olds only able to cut back up to $500 a month in expenses if unable to work, yet 72 per cent of people in this age group spend up to $3000 a month on household expenses.

The survey also gauged what sacrifices Australians would make if they became sick or injured and were not able to work for up to 3 months. Results revealed 87 per cent would eat out less, 80 per cent would cut back on entertainment such as movies or live sports, 76 per cent would cut back on holidays, and 73 per cent would reduce their clothing and/or beauty spend.

In terms of “essential” household expenses, 68 per cent say they would cancel their subscriptions to pay TV and streaming services, 40 per cent would drive less often to cut back on petrol, and 33 per cent would cut back on child care.

Spokesperson for comparethemarket.com.au, Abigail Koch, said: “Right around the country, Aussies are feeling the pressure of household bill increases and it’s worrying that Australians are in a state of vulnerability if they were unable to work due to illness or injury. Older generations, who are more susceptible to health risks, are the least likely to be able to sacrifice enough money to cover their monthly household expenses, in the event that illness or serious injury prevented them from working.

“With income protection insurance – which can replace up to 75 per cent of your monthly income – Aussies can have peace of mind that they will receive a continued income when they are most vulnerable, reducing unwanted stress that may inhibit recovery as well as helping to cover the expensive hospital bills, mortgage repayments and other monthly expenses. By comparing prices online, Aussie households are able to find income protection that suits their lifestyle and budget.”

Personal and household expenses Aussies are most likely to sacrifice, in the event of illness or injury preventing work

Rank Expenses Percentage of respondents
1 Eating out 87%
2 Entertainment 80%
3 Holidays 76%
4 Clothing and/or beauty purchases 73%
5 Pay TV 68%
6 Premium groceries 62%
7 Petrol 40%
8 Child Care 33%
9 School Fees 23%
10 Internet Connection 23%


The amount Aussies are able to sacrifice a month, in the event of illness or injury preventing work

Amount sacrificed ($) Percentage of respondents
Up to $200 25%
$200-500 32%
$500-1000 23%
$1000-1500 12%
$1500+ 8%


For interviews and more information, please contact:
Neneh McGuire | +61 2 9279 3330 | +61 404 433 263|

About comparethemarket.com.au
Comparethemarket.com.au is an online comparison service that takes the hard work out of shopping around. We help Australians to quickly and easily compare and buy products from a wide range of providers. Our easy-to-use comparison tool enables consumers to find a product that best suits their needs and their back pocket. We’re also in the business of comparing personal finance products, utilities and can help find the lowest fuel prices in your area. Whether it’s car, health or home & contents insurance, we provide a completely free service, that empowers Australians to make buying decisions with greater trust, knowledge and savings. We’ve got your back, simples.


[1] Based on Australian Bureau of Statistics, ‘Household and Family Projections, Australia,2011 to 2036’, 2015, that projects there are 9,443,806 households in Australia in 2017 (Series I)

[2] Pureprofile survey of 1006 Australians conducted in March 2017

[3] Household and living expenses (includes utility bills, car bills, loan repayments, mortgage, rent, food, clothes, school fees, and other household items)

Author comparethemarket.com.au

Launched in September of 2012, Comparethemarket.com.au – operated by Compare the Market Pty Ltd (CTM) – has teamed up with a range of Australia’s insurance providers so you can compare some of the latest deals, in one place, side-by-side. The team behind comparethemarket.com.au have experience in insurance, comparison, customer service and digital. If this was a stuffy corporate monologue, we’d tell you that we’re a bunch of subject matter experts specialising in User Experience, Customer Insights & Online Strategies. But to be honest, it’s just as accurate (and a whole lot easier) to say that we’re a bunch of people who want to make your experience with online comparison better. We pride ourselves on the fact that we’re forward-thinking, that we share an entrepreneurial spirit, and the fact that we like to have a bit of a laugh too. We’re all a bit too addicted to chocolate, but no one’s perfect, really.

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