How much does the average Australian save?

author-avatar By
on April 27, 2022
How much does the average Australian save?

Want to know how your rate of savings stacks up against the average Australian? Wonder no more.

Every month it seems that there’s a new report by some institution either saying how good or terrible we are at saving.

However one official measure is through the Australian Bureau of Statistics' household savings rate, published alongside GDP measurements every three months, as seen in the graph below.

During the Covid pandemic, savings ratios skyrocketed as households had a lot of stimulus money coming in and fewer ways to spend it - families also tightened the purse strings as evident in plummeting retail expenditure.

As the pandemic became endemic, the savings ratio declined slightly but still remains elevated compared to pre-Covid times.


One of the most worrying signs is the fact that there’s been minimal pay rises since 2009. According to the Melbourne Institute’s Annual Household Income and Labour Dynamics (HILDA) report, our median household income has fallen by 0.76% from 2009 to 2019.

Inflation has also outpaced wages growth for a large chunk of the past 10 years, meaning workers are effectively losing money every year.

With money proving to be tight for a wide range of Australians, what are we doing with what we have? Are we spending it lavishly, or are we being more conservative and stashing it in our savings accounts? Based on research from numerous entities, it looks like the latter.

The table below displays a snapshot of savings accounts in Australia with some of the highest interest rates on the market: 

Lender

4000$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details

Online Saver (Amounts < $499999)

    4000$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details

    High Interest Savings Account (< $250k)

      4001$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details

      Online Saver ($1-$100k)

        0100$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details

        Mighty Saver

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

          Online Savings Account (<$250k)

            4001$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details

            Lifestyle Account (< $75k)

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

              Bonus Saver Account (Amounts < $100k)

                Rates based on a savings balance of $10,000. Introductory bonus interest rate products not included. Sorted by total interest rates. Refer to providers' websites for bonus rate conditions. Rates correct as of June 27, 2022. View disclaimer.

                Average savings in Australia

                According to data from Westpac, on average a Westpac group customer holds $22,020 in their transaction, savings and term deposit accounts as at 31 December 2021.

                However average (mean) figures are usually skewed by some large deposit holders.

                According to the report, the more realistic figure is around $3,559 - the median.

                Westpac customers' savings as of December 2021

                Age Average Savings Median Savings
                < 17 $3,017 $2729
                18-24 $5,147 $2828
                25-34 $7,995 $3007
                35-44 $11,967 $3075
                45-54 $20,165 $3,499
                All ages $22,020 $3,559
                55-64 $32,800 $4119
                65-75 $46,067 $4,951
                75+ $75,957 $44,289

                Source: Westpac

                Household savings ratio

                The household savings ratio – the ratio of household income saved to household net disposable income – saw a rise through the pandemic.

                It hit lofty highs of more than 20% in mid-2020.

                According to the ABS, the rise in household saving was driven by increased household income, coupled with a decline in spending.

                Reduced spending avenues during the pandemic

                According to ME Bank's most recent Financial Comfort Report, lockdowns and restrictions forced Aussies to tighten their spending, and store away cash more than ever before. 

                Nearly half (44%) of households reined in discretionary spending through the pandemic.

                Despite this, around one in five (22%) Australian households in the survey reported having less than $1,000 in cash savings.

                Nearly one in six (15%) also had to tap into their emergency savings, and approximately one in five could only maintain their lifestyle for their month if they lost their income.

                Savings vs debt

                According to the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA), of the new residential mortgage loans written in the June 2021 quarter, 21.9% had borrowers with debt-to-income (DTI) ratios above six.

                This was a 5.9 percentage point climb over the June 2020 quarter's results.

                This came off the back of a boom in home lending - there was a 40.5% jump in the value of home loans written in the quarter.

                This means approximately $34.2 billion in loans written were to those borrowing more than six-times their income.

                In lieu of the boom in home lending, mortgage stress is another big factor, with 35% of households contributing 30% or more of their disposable income towards repayments according to ME's financial comfort report.

                According to Reserve Bank data, Australian credit card debt is decreasing consistently and is currently $17.6 billion. 

                This has been driven by a cut in spending as the value of personal credit and charge card balances accruing interest dropped significantly throughout the pandemic.

                The popularity of the debit card has also taken off over the past decade.

                See Also: Save, Invest or Pay Off Debt First?

                Why do Australians save?

                Research from Heritage Bank shows around three in four Australians have a savings goal, but 70% don't have automatic savings set up to help them reach their goals.

                According to the data, travelling, having enough money saved for unexpected costs, buying a house, and to offset their mortgage or other loans, are the most common reasons for saving money. 

                Research highlights, broken into age groups, include:

                • 18-24 years are most likely to be saving for a car and education costs out of any other age group
                • 25-34 years are most likely saving for a house deposit
                • 35-44 years are most likely to be saving for travel and holidays
                • 45+ are less likely to have a savings goal in place than any other group.

                Three in five Aussie savers dip into their savings to fund their lifestyle.

                Increased household savings are also more strongly correlated with both age and wealth, so you’ll find people in certain brackets tend to save more.

                Do Aussies use their savings account?

                According to UBank, 35% of Aussies don't use a savings account.

                This could be for a number of reasons:

                • They might not know the difference between a transaction account and a savings account.
                • They might be living paycheque to paycheque
                • They might choose to invest all their savings in equities, bonds or property instead.

                Having a savings account is useful for keeping money in a safe location and accumulating interest. According to ASIC, 52% of successful savers transfer spare funds to their savings account on a regular basis, while nearly a quarter (21%) set up automatic transfers into their savings every payday.

                It’s generally a good idea to have at least three to six months' worth of living expenses in liquid cash in case something unexpected happens, like losing your job or falling ill for a lengthy period. This is called an emergency fund.

                Term deposits are a similar product to savings accounts, though they offer a fixed interest rate for a fixed term. If you 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.

                Lender

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

                Term Deposit - 6 months

                  Annually$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]100031$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details

                  Personal Term Deposit - 6 months (Annually)

                    At Maturity, Annually$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]1000031$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details

                    Term Deposit - 6 months ($10k-$250k)

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

                      Edvest Term Deposit I20 ($1000-$499999) - 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 I10 ($1000-$499999) - 6 months

                          Annually, At Maturity$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]250000$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details

                          Term Deposit ($250k+) - 6 Months

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

                            Term Deposit (> $1000) - 6 months

                              Annually, At Maturity$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]1000031$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details
                              FLEXIBLE INTEREST AND REPAYMENT TERMS
                              • Interest can be paid to other institution
                              • Automatic maturity rollover
                              • Early Withdrawal Available
                              FLEXIBLE INTEREST AND REPAYMENT TERMS

                              Term Deposit (<$1m) - 6 months

                              • Interest can be paid to other institution
                              • Automatic maturity rollover
                              • Early Withdrawal Available

                              Rates based on a $50,000 deposit for 6 months. Rates correct as of June 27, 2022. View disclaimer.

                              How to save money

                              Try to be better than the average saver in Australia.

                              Depending on who you ask, you’ll get various answers to the same question: how much should I be saving out of every paycheque? You’ll find that most ‘experts’ will say between 10-30%, but this obviously isn’t possible for people who barely make enough to get by, are experiencing mounting debts or have other expenses, like caring for a sick loved one.

                              The first step towards savings is budgeting – doing a monthly budget of all your expenses can give you a good starting point. From there, you can cut out unnecessary expenses or prioritise the more important ones. You should then move on to clearing debts if you have them. Having money sitting in a savings account might not mean much if you’re getting charged through the nose in loan interest.

                              When you do decide to set a savings goal, start small, and work from there. Achieving a realistic goal can give you the confidence to kick on and save bigger amounts over time.

                              Article first published August 2019 by William Jolly, last updated 27 April 2022. 


                              Image by Marco Lopez via Unsplash

                               

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                              Aaron joined Savings.com.au in 2021. He is a finance journalist with a keen interest in property, the share market, and improving financial literacy in young Australians.

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