THE March quarter results of the St.George-Melbourne Institute Household Financial Conditions Report released today show that 45.3% of Australians are currently managing to save, with 12.4% indicating that they were able to 'save a lot'.
The positive start to the year has seen the St.George-Melbourne Institute Household Financial Conditions Index rise to 124.4 (up 2.5% from the previous quarter).
The group which saw the greatest improvement in conditions was 18-24 year olds with a 36.1% improvement since December 2012.
Chief Economist St.George Bank, Hans Kunnen explains, "This is a significant jump for the younger age bracket. Their improved financial position is likely due to them picking up work after the Christmas break.
"We're generally seeing a spring in the step of Australian households, with close to half of the population (45.3%) managing to end the quarter with savings, which is a great start to the year. All states have seen an improvement in household financial conditions, with New South Wales leading the charge with a 3.8% increase," he said.
On the housing front, the level of outright home ownership rose considerably across all states, with the national figure of respondents who own their home outright rising to 45.6% (an increase from 40.2% recorded in December).
"Improved household financial conditions may have allowed some Australians to make greater contributions to their mortgages, and others to actually pay off their homes entirely. The increased ability to do so may be the result of the strong performance of the share market we have seen so far this year, as well as lower interest rates - factors which are also likely contributors to the overall confidence being felt across the board," Hans Kunnen said.
General Manager, St.George Retail Banking, Andy Fell, has seen confidence levels also reflected in customer behaviour, "As the survey showed, 40% of respondents are living debt free and it's great to see that people are managing to save more.
"We've also seen an increase in customers taking advantage of the free budgeting tools we provide through our mobile banking app and online banking. This shows that the motivation to save is high and people are setting financial goals to work towards achieving their dreams," he said.
- The St.George-Melbourne Institute Index of Household Financial Conditions rose 2.5% from December 2012 to March 2013
- 45.3% of respondents said they were saving and 12.4% were in the category of 'saving a lot'
- The household financial conditions of 18-24 year olds saw a 36.1% improvement since December 2012
- By state, NSW has experienced the greatest improvement in household financial conditions with a 3.8% increase, followed by SA (2.9%), QLD (2.8%), VIC (2.7%) and WA (1.2%)
- Outright home ownership was up nationally from 40.2% in December 2012 to 45.6% in March 2013; SA experienced the greatest positive shift, from 39.8% to 49.9% for the quarter
- As a preferred savings vehicle, deposits with banks have risen from 83.6% to 87.4%. 34% of respondents also say they would invest hypothetical new savings with a bank
- Those holding shares grew from 33.4% to 37.3% since December
- Those who said they would look to invest hypothetical savings in real estate decreased from 24.0% to 21.3% over the quarter
- 40.0% of households indicated they were debt free, down from 42.7% in December 2012
- The number of respondents using credit cards rose to 37.4% compared to 31.3% in the last survey
- The percentage of respondents with mortgage debt has decreased from 42.4% to 38.8%
- 60.0% of Australians are paying 0-10% of their after tax income on servicing debt
- Saving for holidays/travel remain the most popular reason for saving at 59.5%
- Precautionary savings dropped from 53.4% to 51.0%
About the St.George-Melbourne Institute Household Financial Conditions Report
The St.George-Melbourne Institute Household Financial Conditions Report is a national survey of 1200 respondents to arrive at a summary of key savings behaviours of households each quarter. Further quarterly results will be released in June and September 2013.