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Why are young Australians fighting over money?

3 min read
11 Nov 2021
  • A quarter of Australians say money problems have put strain on their relationships, with challenges more likely to arise among younger people
  • Bill Shock Tracker report reveals just over half of Australians have had to cut back on spending to afford bills over the past three months
  • One in five said they would not be able to afford a $500 bill if it arrived today

Money trouble is feeding stress in Aussie households, with young people feeling the pressure most according to new research from Compare the Market.

A survey of 1,500 Australians found a quarter have argued with a partner or family member over money issues during the past three months.

Young people, aged 18–24, are more likely to have faced relationship struggles, with 50 per cent reporting arguments – compared to just 8 per cent of people aged over 65.

‘I have argued with my partner or other family members about money in the last three months’

Answer18-24 years25-34 years35-44 years45-54 years55-64 years65+ years
Agree50%35%36%30%19%8%
Disagree50%65%64%70%81%92%

Source: Compare the Market Bill Shock Tracker, September 2021.

Young adults are also much more likely to worry about money on a regular basis. About a quarter of people aged 18-24 said they stress about money every day (24 per cent), compared to just 11 per cent of people aged 55–64, and 7 per cent of the 65+ age group.

This could be explained, in part, by the fact that young adults are more likely to have copped an unexpected expense, such as home or vehicle repairs, or had to pay for something they had forgotten in the past three months.

Compare the Market spokesperson Sarah Orr said the results were sad but not surprising.

“Young people have been some of the worst affected by job losses and disrupted education during the pandemic,” Ms Orr said.

“Before, students were able to intern and build up their experience in the workplace – sadly those opportunities have been lost to office closures around the country.

“All this uncertainty, against a backdrop of an increasingly competitive property market, has created a perfect storm for stress.”

About four in ten (38 per cent) of the 18-24 group have forgotten a buy now pay later debt, while 35 per cent have forgotten a streaming subscription.

People in the older age groups are more likely to forget about things like council rates and car registration.

How often do you feel stressed about your finances?

Answer18-24 years25-34 years35-44 years45-54 years55-64 years65+ years
Daily24%18%20%19%11%7%
Weekly30%29%25%24%18%8%
Monthly29%24%21%15%18%10%
Infrequently14%23%30%30%38%46%
Never2%6%5%11%14%28%

Source: Compare the Market Bill Shock Tracker, September 2021.

One in five respondents (20 per cent) said they would not be able to afford a $500 bill if it arrived today while 7 per cent said they could only do so with borrowed money.

Just over half of all respondents have cut back on spending to afford their bills over the past three months.

Three quarters spent less on dining out and takeaway food, while 53 per cent reported cutting back on groceries – an expense that costs the average household $170 a week.

Compare the Market commissioned PureProfile to survey 1,502 Australian adults online in September 2021.

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avatar of author: Sarah Orr

Written by Sarah Orr

Sarah is an avid storyteller, passionate about improving financial literacy and helping Australians make informed choices with their money. Outside the newsroom, she enjoys cycling around Brisbane and snapping scenery on her camera.

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