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Sinking savings: Shock stats reveal how much cash Aussies have for an emergency

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Millions of Australians have no savings buffer to cushion them from unexpected expenses, according to new research by Finder.

A Finder survey of 1,062 respondents revealed 1 in 3 (33%) Australians – equivalent to 6.7 million people – don't have a dollar of emergency savings.

The average Australian has $12,360 to fall back on in case of an emergency – significantly more than the estimated $9,708 they believe they would need set aside for unplanned expenses.

The research found on average, men have $17,832 in emergency savings – 3 times more than women have ($6,859) to fall back on in hard times.

Average savings also varied between the generations, with the average gen Z having $6,141 in emergency savings, compared to baby boomers who have $18,200 stashed away.

Sarah Megginson, personal finance expert at Finder, said millions of households aren't equipped to handle a money emergency.

"As Aussies feel the pinch of rising interest rates, grocery prices and electricity costs, they're dipping into their savings more and more, which could leave them very vulnerable if an unexpected expense arises.

"Anything from a job loss to a car accident or even an unexpected dental visit could spell disaster for cash-strapped Aussies.

"Having savings available for an emergency can alleviate so much stress and reduce the need to rely on credit."

Megginson said rising living costs were eating away at savings buffers.

"It's hard for people to save right now with many living paycheque to paycheque.

"Working to build up an emergency fund should be a top priority."

Megginson said small changes can make a huge difference over time.

"Little habits can create big money leaks. It's things like pausing before you buy a bottle of water or soft drink when you're out and about; sharing a pizza instead of paying for separate meals when going out for dinner; switching expensive brands for generic brands at the supermarket; and cutting back on takeaways and last-minute meals.

"If these small actions result in an extra $50 a month stashed away in savings, after a year, you've got a $600 emergency fund. It might not sound like a lot, but that's far better than $0.

"If you're just getting started, a good aim is to save up an emergency fund to cover at least one month's worth of expenses.

"As for where to stash it, look for a savings account where your money is easy to access and will earn the highest possible interest rate," Megginson said.

How much cash do you currently have set aside for emergencies?
Source: Finder survey of 1,062 respondents, October 2023
How much cash do you currently have set aside for emergencies?
Source: Finder survey of 1,062 respondents, October 2023

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