With research showing that a significant number of Australians struggle with their finances, ANZ’s Simone Tilley says one of the simplest ways to improve our financial wellbeing is to start talking about it
We know that the past year has been challenging in so many ways, especially when it comes to managing our finances. Many of us may have experienced a change in our financial position – such as how we are saving and spending our money – and this can affect our financial wellbeing.
Financial wellbeing isn’t about how much you earn, or how much you know about money. It’s about the ability to meet your current financial commitments comfortably and have the financial resilience to maintain this into the future. Put simply, it’s about whether we feel that we can pay bills and make loan repayments, cover an unexpected expense or fall in income, and have enough money to enjoy life.
When we feel like we have control of our finances, we are generally better prepared to make plans for the future. Financial wellbeing can affect how people feel and act. This is why it is so important and something we should all make time for.
ANZ’s Survey of Adult Financial Wellbeing highlighted that around 60% of Australians feel in control of their finances most of the time. But a significant number struggle to manage their money. In fact, more than one in three people find dealing with money stressful and overwhelming. According to the ANZ Roy Morgan Financial Wellbeing Indicator, while Australians had improved their financial welbeing pre-COVID-19, the pandemic has reversed these gains for many people.
We can improve our financial wellbeing by building good money habits, such as tracking our spending, managing our debt and building our savings. To empower Australians to do this, ANZ launched its Financial Wellbeing Program, which takes them through six self-guided steps to help them get on top of their money. The online portal provides simple, practical and educational information, tools and articles that can help provide confidence and clarity when it comes to money.
I also believe one of the simplest ways we can improve our financial wellbeing is to talk more about money. Research suggests that people are more comfortable discussing personal issues or traditionally taboo topics – marriage problems, mental illness, drug addiction, race, sex, politics and religion – than money. This needs to change. Conversations are key to our ability to share knowledge and learn from each other. However, they are more than just a simple information exchange – talking about our experience with money and aspirations gives us confidence to improve our financial wellbeing. The ANZ Survey of Adult Financial Wellbeing showed that people who are comfort-able talking to others about their financial situation have higher financial wellbeing.
We often see our fi nancial circumstances as a barrier to discussing money with friends and family, and this is why, when faced with a major financial decision such as buying a home, many people turn to a broker for guidance. The best interests duty will continue to cement the importance of the interaction between brokers and their customers. Brokers are in a unique position to support the financial wellbeing of individuals and SME owners through the meaningful conversations they have about their financial needs.
We really can’t underestimate the value of conversation. What we say and how we say it is important. We recognise the work that brokers do to support their customers and their ability to explain financial terms in simple language. To further help brokers and their customers with these conversations, there are a range of tools available on anz.com to aid budgeting, tracking spending, and saving. These tools are available to everyone – not just ANZ customers or brokers accredited with ANZ.
At ANZ, we want people and communities to thrive. Helping customers, employees and the community make the most of their money throughout their lives is critical to this.