Money too tight to mention for many

John KidmanAAP
Money's tight for an increasing number of Australian households.
Camera IconMoney's tight for an increasing number of Australian households. Credit: AAP

On its knees just a year ago, Australia's economy has roared back to life with the promise of growth, jobs and higher wages. On paper, it's enough to inspire a national sigh of relief.

But not all that glitters is gold.

For an alarming number of householders, making ends meet again won't happen quickly.

The dream of home ownership remains elusive, savings have taken a nasty hit, winter power bills are biting and petrol - now that most are out of lockdown - is again a noticeable expense.

The pain is being felt by small business owners too, especially in the absence of support from the JobKeeper wage subsidy that ended in March.

Analysis by CreditorWatch has found business external administrations rose 24 per cent over the past three months and defaults increased by nine per cent.

"We've been saying for some time we won't be able to get a true picture of the economic health of the nation until federal government stimulus measures, such as JobKeeper, have ended and their impact has stopped artificially propping up some businesses," according to CreditorWatch CEO Patrick Coghlan.

"Early signs ... suggest there will be a shake-out of poorly-performing businesses over the coming two quarters."

With an extra three per cent increase in May, according to the latest CoreLogic data, Sydney home prices have skyrocketed 9.3 per cent for the quarter and beyond reach for a whole new tier of buyers.

Brisbane registered a two per cent jump for the month, Melbourne 1.8 per cent, Adelaide 1.9, Perth 1.1 and Hobart a whopping 3.2 per cent.

Many consigned to the rental market are finding the going steep too.

Last month's Anglicare Rental Affordability Snapshot found just 1.16 per cent (859) of 74,000 private nationwide listings within the means of a minimum wage earner.

Fewer still were affordable for those on aged (386) and disability (236) pensions while only three met the budget of someone on JobSeeker.

For those who can manage to stump up the rent, it may be to the detriment of their nest eggs.

Comparison site Finder's latest Consumer Sentiment Tracker shows Australians on average had $29,369 in savings in May 2021, down from $36,416 in April.

Finder's RBA Cash Rate Survey shows 27 of 40 experts agree that consumer saving will continue to decrease further throughout the next quarter, as consumer spending returns to normal.

Its poll of 1000 householders in May found 85 per cent of them will take specific action to save money on energy costs this winter.

Switching off lights (56 per cent), wearing extra clothes (49 per cent), shutting off off unused appliances (48 per cent) and only heating rooms in use (40 per cent) were the four most popular tactics.

Petrol stress is also on the rise.

In June, the percentage of motorists saying fuel costs were among the most stressful expenses hit 14 per cent, the highest level since pre-pandemic March 2020.

Separate research by Compare Club suggests 80 per cent of Australians are cutting back on spending to cover bills. Half are likely to avoid going out for dinner, while 35 per cent are putting off paying debts or saving.

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