Despite squirrelling away funds during the pandemic, millions of Australians find themselves without any emergency savings.
Almost a third (31 per cent) don’t have enough cash in reserve to cover a month’s worth of living expenses, according to research by comparison site Finder.
One-in-three Australians had funds to last more than six months if they were to lose their jobs, the May survey of 1000 people found.
“Despite everything that has happened over the past year, one-in-five people (19 per cent) still don’t have any emergency savings safety net at all,” Finder’s personal finance spokeswoman Kate Browne said.
“That lack of emergency funds leaves people unprepared with very little to fall back on.”
The survey results showed the average person could afford to support themselves for nine months before their cash dried up.
According to Australian Council of Social Service CEO Cassandra Goldie, however, post-COVID economic fallout is a tale of haves and have-nots.
Although nearly three million Australians, including about one million children, have been plunged into deeper poverty, many are looking to better financial times ahead, she said.
“The reality is that we’re seeing a two-speed COVID recovery.
“Millions (of people are) being left behind in unemployment or underemployment, while those in well-paid jobs enjoy generous tax cuts.”
It’s recommended households should have at least enough spare funds to get through three months of costs, including rent or mortgage payments.
“The more you can save the better,” Ms Browne said.
“It’s a good time for consumers to think about their financial goals for the next 12 months and to make sure that their savings are working as hard as possible for them.”
If people can firstly work out specifically how much money they need to save, their goals will be easier to achieve, she said.
“Work out a figure and write it somewhere you’ll see often to keep you on track. Try to aim for at least three months’ and ideally six months’ worth of living expenses saved.
“Analyse your current expenses. Take a look at your transactions for the last few months and what you’re spending on living expenses versus everything else. From here, you should be able to find opportunities to cut back on your spending and work out how much you can realistically save each month.”
Keeping a separate bank account for emergency savings is another option, to avoid using the funds for items that aren’t urgent.
On average, Baby Boomers could survive off their savings and sick leave for 18 months compared to just over three months for Gen Z.
Women (27 per cent) are more than twice as likely as men (11 per cent) to say they wouldn’t be able to sustain themselves at all.