That was evident in a 6.9 per cent fall in financial wellbeing in April and May measured by the ANZ Roy Morgan Financial Wellbeing Indicator, with lower financial wellbeing persisting throughout 2020.
“In the first year of the pandemic younger Australians experienced the biggest fall in financial wellbeing of all age groups.”
Thankfully, financial wellbeing has changed generally for the better for Australians during the second year of the pandemic as vaccines were rolled out and Australia began to ‘open up’ domestically and internationally.
The latest ANZ Roy Morgan Financial Wellbeing Indicator shows improving economic conditions have resulted in a 2.8 per cent increase in financial wellbeing from March to December 2021.
The trend is not uniform however. And there is particular concern around a younger demographic – particularly in an environment where that same group has shown to be vulnerable to financial misinformation.
For example, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has recently been warning about misinformation and outright scams on social media. ASIC has specifically warned social media influencers who post about finance, so-called “finfluencers” who can have very large followings and are not always properly licenced.
But there are now more people with ‘no worries’ – the highest levels of financial wellbeing (scoring greater than 80 out of 100) – increasing 3.6 percentage points from March 2021 to 22.8 per cent in December 2021.
However, the proportion of Australians with very low financial wellbeing, who are ‘struggling’ with their finances (scoring less than 30 out of 100), has barely improved in that same time period.
The pandemic has also had a disproportionate impact on different age groups. On average, younger Australians already experience lower financial wellbeing than their older counterparts. Moreover, in the first year of the pandemic, younger Australians experienced the biggest fall in financial wellbeing of all age groups, down 7.3 per cent. The 14–24-year-old demographic were also the only age group to show no recovery in 2021, a result driven by a higher number of individuals employed in retail and recreation or personal industries such as sports, restaurants, gyms and hairdressing.
It is also this same group who are most active on social media and likely to encounter misinformation and where it is difficult to decern between trustworthy independent sources of information, voices who may be receiving payment for their endorsement, and even scams.