New research commissioned by financial commentator and best-selling money author Vanessa Stoykov found over a third (38%) of Australians say they aren't living the life they want. 

From the 1,000 respondents surveyed, the leading reason for this unhappiness was that 'money is tight', which was cited by 58% of those unsatisfied.  

This sentiment was 'similar' across genders and regardless of whether respondents had children or not.

Looking across the borders, people from New South Wales and Victoria had the highest levels of life satisfaction (63% and 62% respectively), while Queenslanders were on the lower end of the scale (56%).

But in 'promising' news, 49% of unsatisfied people said they were trying to improve their situation by saving/budgeting hard to afford a better lifestyle.

Ms Stoykov said she's experienced firsthand how money has a huge impact on people's happiness and overall mental health.

"The pandemic has added yet another level of stress to people’s finances, and people were already struggling pre-Covid, however with lockdowns ending and restrictions easing, today really is the time to start taking action," Ms Stoykov said.

"Most people are exhausted after what they’ve gone through over the last year, and making changes or being proactive may seem too difficult right now for many, and that’s fine."

She said that taking action doesn't mean making major life changes, because even small and simple adjustments can lead to 'significant benefits'.

"For example, this time of year is the perfect time to think about how you can spend that money to improve your life in general," she said.

"That could mean using half to pay down your debt so there’s less interest to pay back each money and putting the other half towards an experience with your partner that would bring you both joy and strengthen your relationship.

"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."

Expert tips on how to create the life you want using money

Ms Stoykov provided her top five tips on how to use money to create the life you want.

1. Visualise how you want your future to look.

"Make it a habit to sit down with your partner (and children if you have them) together and talk about what brings you happiness, what you want your future to look like, and what your ambitions are," she said.

2. Find ways to eliminate tasks that make you unhappy.

She said to put a plan together to take each issue bringing unhappiness into your life.

"For example, the average cost to clean a four-bedroom house in Australia is $120," Ms Stoykov said.

"So, if cleaning is a barrier for you living a better life, outsource it to an expert." 

3. Figure out how much these actions cost, get creative to recoup costs

"There are thousands of side hustles you could take up to generate the funds spent on outsourcing tasks you hate," she said.

4. Celebrate and reflect

Ms Stoykov said that every six months, you should get your partner/kids together to have another dinner to check in on what's worked and what hasn't, to 'get realigned'.

5. Talk to your family and friends

"Money is quite a taboo topic, but it shouldn’t have to be," Ms Stoykov said.

"By talking about how you are using money to bring your dreams to life, it might help others feel less trapped by their finances too and motivate them to take steps to create a happier life too."

Image by Matthew Henry on Unsplash