23-Aug-2021 • Personal Finance

Many Australians seem to have found a silver lining during COVID lockdowns, with 84% saying they agreed (30% strongly), that the time at home was an ‘opportunity to assess their financial goals’ while 40% were ‘creating a new habit to help achieve them’.

These were the key findings from ME’s new COVID spending and saving survey.

Presenting the rare gift of time, the lockdowns saw more than one fifth of all Australians stretching their financial creativity by ‘producing a new side hustle’ (21%), while more than half (55%) were motivated to ‘work towards saving an emergency fund’ and ‘41% were saving for a holiday, car or significant something other than a house’.

ME’s Money Expert Matthew Read said many Australians suddenly had more time on their hands, offering the opportunity to take a good look at how they were using their money – and if they didn’t last year, the current lockdowns present the opportunity all over again.

“When people stopped to review their financial goals, they also looked at what they needed to do to achieve them. It’s no surprise reduced spending on expensive habits, paying down mortgages and setting up a budget or savings plan were the main sources of change. It might be fair to say COVID lockdowns have – and may continue to – make many Australians more financially savvy,” said Mr Read.

The new financial habits that 40% of Australians said they developed during COVID lockdowns that are now helping them achieve their financial goal include:

  • spending less on discretionary items like takeaway meals and coffee (72%)
  • budgeting or saving plans (45%)
  • tracking expenses (40%)
  • paying bills on time (32%)
  • planning purchases (32%)
  • spending less on necessities like groceries (30%)
  • saving loose change (27%)

“Money use aside, the pause in time also gave almost half of Australians the time to pursue other potential career, business and lifestyle paths*,” he said.

But not everyone found the COVID lockdowns a positive pause that stimulated growth in their financial awareness. About a fifth (19%) of Australians developed habits during the pandemic that have ‘hindered or are hindering them reaching their financial goals’. These habits included online shopping (71%), shopping when bored (34%), indulging in alcohol and consumables (33%) and impulse purchasing (25%).

“We all know the lockdowns aren’t easy, and we’re once again being tested, but it’s great to see so many Australians working towards a healthy financial future.”


*45% of Australians said COVID lockdowns gave them the time to pursue other potential career, business and lifestyle paths

Editor notes: ME’s COVID Spending and Saving Survey is based on national survey of 1,000 Australian adults. The survey was conducted in July 2021 with fieldwork by PollFish.

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