The Consumer Policy Research Centre's (CPRC) study of more than 1,110 Australians found more than one in four are worried about their ability to pay rent, mortgage repayments and energy bills.

Aussies are more concerned about their ability to manage their housing costs, with 37% concerned about paying rent, while 27% are worried about meeting mortgage repayments. 

Almost half of Australians (49%) are taking steps to manage their household expenses, including dipping into savings (28%) and using credit cards or buy-now-pay-later services (22%), while one in five renters and mortgagors are taking actions such as seeking a better mortgage deal or requesting payment assistance. 

Overall, 12 million Australians are concerned about the impact COVID-19 has had on their financial wellbeing, with one in five saying they are "very concerned". 

CPRC's report, titled Consumers and COVID-19: from crisis to recovery, said COVID-19 "exposes the frailties within systems and across the community", with CEO Lauren Solomon saying many people are expressing concern over what happens in September when support measures (such as JobKeeper, JobSeekereviction moratoriums and mortgage repayment holidays) come to an end.  

"People are most concerned about housing costs. We’re seeing people express concern about what happens when support measures are removed," Ms Solomon said. 

“It is startling to see one in five Australians needing to take action to manage rent or mortgage repayments – either seeking better deals from mortgage providers, payment assistance, reducing repayments or simply missing payments entirely.”

Need somewhere to store cash and earn interest? The table below features non-introductory savings accounts with some of the highest interest rates on the market.

Provider

010000$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details
  • Earn up to 5.40% pa by depositing $1,000 in the previous month
  • No account fees
  • Easy access to your money

Saver Account (<$250k)

  • Earn up to 5.40% pa by depositing $1,000 in the previous month
  • No account fees
  • Easy access to your money
02000$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details
  • Download the App to open your account
  • No monthly fees on any of your Save accounts
  • Deposit $200 per month to activate bonus interest

Save Account

  • Download the App to open your account
  • No monthly fees on any of your Save accounts
  • Deposit $200 per month to activate bonus interest
4000$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details
  • For deposit amounts $0 - $49,999
  • New ING personal savings customers receive an introductory bonus 0.50% p.a. variable kick starter rate for the first 4 months on balances up to $500,000.
  • Reverts to variable ongoing rate. T&Cs apply.

Savings Accelerator (Amounts < $50000)

  • For deposit amounts $0 - $49,999
  • New ING personal savings customers receive an introductory bonus 0.50% p.a. variable kick starter rate for the first 4 months on balances up to $500,000.
  • Reverts to variable ongoing rate. T&Cs apply.
010000$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details
  • Deposit at least $1,000+ each month from an external source
  • Make 5 or more eligible transactions
  • Grow your savings balance each month

Savings Maximiser (<$100k)

  • Deposit at least $1,000+ each month from an external source
  • Make 5 or more eligible transactions
  • Grow your savings balance each month
4000$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details
  • A high-interest online savings account with no monthly fees, easy withdrawals and award-winning digital banking
  • No withdrawal notice periods or interest rate penalties

Savings Account (Amounts < $250k)

  • A high-interest online savings account with no monthly fees, easy withdrawals and award-winning digital banking
  • No withdrawal notice periods or interest rate penalties
020000$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details

HomeME Savings Account ($0 - $100,000)

    02001$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details

    Growth Saver ($1 - $25k)

      010000$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details
      For customers aged 14-35 years
      For customers aged 14-35 years

      Future Saver Account ( < $50k)

        05001$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details
        • Maximum Age - 24

        Goal Saver

        • Maximum Age - 24
        010000$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details

        Boost Saver

          00.011$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details

          Reward Saver Account (31 years +) ($0-$100k)

            01000$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details

            Bonus Saver Account (Amounts < $100k)

              0201$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details

              Reward Saver Kick Start (Amounts ≤ $1m)

                00.010$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details

                Life (< 30 years) (Monthly deposit)

                  5000$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details

                  NetBank Saver

                    000$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details

                    ANZ Save

                      050$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details

                      Young Saver Account

                        0501$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details

                        Save up

                          02000$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details

                          Bonus Saver (<$1 Million)

                            000$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details

                            Smart Saver Account (Under 25)

                              Important Information and Comparison Rate Warning

                              All products with a link to a product provider’s website have a commercial marketing relationship between us and these providers. These products may appear prominently and first within the search tables regardless of their attributes and may include products marked as promoted, featured or sponsored. The link to a product provider’s website will allow you to get more information or apply for the product. By de-selecting “Show online partners only” additional non-commercialised products may be displayed and re-sorted at the top of the table. For more information on how we’ve selected these “Sponsored”, “Featured” and “Promoted” products, the products we compare, how we make money, and other important information about our service, please click here. Rates correct as of June 19, 2024. View disclaimer.

                              Ms Solomon also said people are doing things like cancelling ongoing services and subscriptions, while on a grander scale, high numbers of young Australians are applying for early access to their super. 

                              “This crisis has dealt a sudden blow to household incomes and financial security. It has amplified existing vulnerabilities and pushed people into financial distress,” said CPRC Research and Policy Director Emma O’Neill.

                              “What we know is that aggregate numbers don’t tell the full story. Casual workers, young people and renters appear to be faring much worse than the general population. We must ensure we design and deliver support measures to those who need them most.

                              “That means ensuring we’re listening and responding to actual experiences on the ground.”

                              According to Ms O'Neill, now isn't the time to be removing vital protections, such as the JobSeeker program. 

                              The likes of the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) have implored the government to not scrap the increased JobSeeker rate, while the government itself has denied reports the rate would be permanently increased from $40 a week to $75 a week

                              "What we need is a modern consumer protection framework delivered alongside stimulus measures to industry to ensure that consumers and the community derive maximum benefit,” Ms O'Neill said. 

                              The Consumer Policy Research Centre (CPRC) is an independent, non-profit, consumer think-tank established with seed funding by the Victorian Government in 2016.

                              COVID-19 to have lasting impacts on household budgets

                              New research from St.George Bank in its latest COVID-19 Financial Monitor reveals half of all households still remain concerned about the health and wellbeing of their family going forward, while half were also unprepared for such a crisis in the first place.

                              The research, conducted throughout April and May on over 1,000 Australian households, found that while six in 10 felt confident they can continue to pay down their home loan, half of households expect the financial impacts of COVID-19 to be lasting and will affect them for nearly two years into the future.

                              Over half of families wish they’d prioritised savings to help safeguard themselves against unexpected financial events like COVID-19.

                              St. George Bank General Manager Ross Miller said more Australians are starting to take emergency savings more seriously. 

                              “Emergency savings is something we often talk about with our customers when conducting a financial review of their circumstances, and what we’re seeing is a trend where pre-Covid, only half of Australian households’ factored this into their budget, but that is now changing," Mr Miller said. 

                              “In light of current economic circumstances, we are seeing households think differently about their financial circumstances, and post-COVID emerging, Australians are showing a keen interest in safeguarding their financial future.”

                              Financial commentators often recommend consumers keep between three to six months worth of living expenses in an emergency savings buffer.

                              Read: Why you should set up an emergency savings fund

                              Meanwhile, a third of households surveyed said they would change their financial priorities to be better prepared, while four in 10 have said they'd already begun to take the steps to create additional income opportunities. 

                              “We’re seeing households choosing to mitigate the financial impact of COVID-19 on their families, stating they are selling second-hand items online, and nearly one in 10 families have already taken a second job,” Mr Miller said.

                              “This shows some confident signals that households have learnt from current circumstances, are willing to cut back more, make a change or find extra ways of making income so they can be more financially prepared.

                              "For many, they are also using this time to save and look at getting on the property ladder."

                              Want to earn a fixed interest rate on your cash? The table below features term deposits with some of the highest interest rates on the market for a six-month term.

                              Provider

                              Annually, At Maturity$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]50007$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details
                              • Interest calculated daily and paid at end of term
                              • Monthly interest available for terms over 12 months
                              • For deposit amounts $5,000 - $2,000,000

                              Term Deposit - 6 Months

                              • Interest calculated daily and paid at end of term
                              • Monthly interest available for terms over 12 months
                              • For deposit amounts $5,000 - $2,000,000
                              At Maturity, Annually$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]5000$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details
                              • Guaranteed rate of return
                              • Manage your term deposit online
                              • Choose your own term - Options range from one month to five years

                              Term Deposit - 6 months

                              • Guaranteed rate of return
                              • Manage your term deposit online
                              • Choose your own term - Options range from one month to five years
                              At Maturity, Monthly$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]2500031$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details

                              Term Deposit - 6 months

                                Annually, At Maturity$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]100031$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details

                                Term Deposit ($1000-$500001) - 6 months

                                  At Maturity$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]10008$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details

                                  Online Term Deposit - 6 months

                                    At Maturity$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]100031$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details
                                    • Deposits are protected up to a limit of $250,000 for each account
                                    • Added loyalty bonus of 0.10%

                                    Personal Term Deposit - 6 months

                                    • Deposits are protected up to a limit of $250,000 for each account
                                    • Added loyalty bonus of 0.10%
                                    At Maturity, Annually$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]2500031$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details

                                    Term Deposit ($25k-$5m) - 6 months

                                      At Maturity$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]100000$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details

                                      Term Investment ($100k-$200k) - 6 months

                                        At Maturity$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]50031$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details

                                        Term Deposit ($500 - $1mn) - 6 months

                                          Annually, Semi-Annually, At Maturity, Monthly$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]5000$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details

                                          Term Deposit - 6 months

                                            At Maturity, Annually$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]500031$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details

                                            Term Deposit ($5k-$25k) - 6 months

                                              Annually, At Maturity$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]100031$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details

                                              Term Deposit ($1000+) - 6 months

                                                At Maturity$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]5000$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details

                                                Term Investment ($5k-$25k) - 6 months

                                                  At Maturity$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]500031$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details

                                                  Term Deposit ($5k-$500k) - 6 months

                                                    Annually, At Maturity$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]25000031$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details

                                                    Term Deposit ($250k+) - 6 Months

                                                      Annually, At Maturity$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]500031$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details

                                                      Term Deposit ($5000-$999999) - 6 months

                                                        Annually, At Maturity$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]100031$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details

                                                        Term Deposit (> $1000) - 6 months

                                                          At Maturity, Annually$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]500031$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details

                                                          TDs Premier Investment ($5k - $250k) - 6 months

                                                            At Maturity, Annually$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]100031$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details

                                                            Term Deposit ($1000+) - 6 months

                                                              At Maturity$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]500031$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details

                                                              Term Deposit - 6 months

                                                                Important Information and Comparison Rate Warning

                                                                All products with a link to a product provider’s website have a commercial marketing relationship between us and these providers. These products may appear prominently and first within the search tables regardless of their attributes and may include products marked as promoted, featured or sponsored. The link to a product provider’s website will allow you to get more information or apply for the product. By de-selecting “Show online partners only” additional non-commercialised products may be displayed and re-sorted at the top of the table. For more information on how we’ve selected these “Sponsored”, “Featured” and “Promoted” products, the products we compare, how we make money, and other important information about our service, please click here. Rates correct as of June 19, 2024. View disclaimer.