Galaxy Survey finds Australians are experiencing high stress over money and outstanding debts

5 July 2016


Given the multitude of pressures Australians are currently facing including rising costs of living, outrageous house prices, hefty utility bills and stagnating wages, a significant number of Australians are now reporting high levels of stress and anxiety when it comes to worrying about money and debt.

A new Galaxy survey of 1,000 people nationwide conducted on behalf of Fox Symes and Associates the leading provider of debt solutions in Australia, found as many as 67 per cent of Australians are worried about their finances and outstanding debts. These concerns are having a significant impact with 40 per cent experiencing anxiety and stress, 37 per cent being unable to sleep at night, 23 per cent in fear of losing their job and 19 per cent fearing they may lose or have to sell their home.

In particular, Australians say the rising costs of electricity and gas bills (60 per cent), food (55 per cent) and health insurance (49 per cent) are making it difficult for them to stick to their monthly budget.

"The fact that two thirds of all Australians are worried about their finances is truly concerning," says Deborah Southon, director at Fox Symes. "With the upcoming Federal election just around the corner, the major parties need to take into careful consideration just how stressed people are currently feeling especially about housing affordability.”

The consequences of worrying about finances and outstanding debts are also negatively impacting relationships and families with one in five Australians (18 per cent) saying they have argued with or been afraid of splitting up with their partner and one in ten (10 per cent) saying they’ve put off starting a family or having another child.

"We do see people who are experiencing relationship problems because of money and debt issues," says Ms Southon. "It can be tricky for a couple to jointly manage their finances, particularly if one likes to save and another likes to spend. People need to work out a system where they discuss things calmly and put practical steps into place such as workable realistic budget and automatic payments."

Women are more likely than men to say when worrying about finances and outstanding debts they have experienced anxiety and stress (47 per cent compared to 33 per cent), being unable to sleep (43 per cent compared to 31 per cent) and panic attacks (22 per cent compared to 13 per cent). Men are more likely to have experienced fear of losing their job (27 per cent compared to 18 per cent). "Stressing about money can be a major source of anxiety for women," Ms Southon says.

Those who have children under 18 years living in the household are more likely than those who do not to have experienced anxiety and stress (46 per cent compared to 38 per cent), fear of losing their job (32 per cent compared to 19 per cent), arguing with a partner or fear of splitting up (24 per cent compared to 15 per cent) and putting off starting a family or having another child (16 per cent compared to 7 per cent) as a consequence of worrying about finances and outstanding debts.

"Money can really put a strain on relationships and family dynamics," says Ms Southon. "There's a lot to think about - childcare costs, bigger grocery bills, bigger electricity bills, bigger housing costs, the list goes on."

Both city dwellers and country residents are fairly even as far as overall stress goes. Some 43 per cent of non-capital city respondents report feeling anxious, stressed or teary when it comes to thinking about money issues – around the same percentage as capital city residents. However people in big cities still fear job loss more – 25 per cent compared to 18 per cent elsewhere.

"Whilst living in the country can have advantages such as more affordable housing, country people have other factors to worry about such as fewer jobs and possibly lower wages. These issues can cause stress when you're trying to manage your finances. However as people in the city have larger expenses and bigger mortgages they are naturally more fearful as to how they would survive if they lost their job."

Overall, Ms Southon says that having debt hanging over your head and not being able to live within your means has a real impact on people's stress levels. "It can seriously impact work productivity, relationships, and people's health.”

About the research The study was conducted by Galaxy Research between 14-17 April, 2016. The survey was administered online amongst a nationally representative sample of 1,000 Australians aged 18 years and older covering: NSW, ACT, VIC, TAS, QLD, SA and WA.

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