What are Australians’ biggest money mistakes?

Angus Kidman 23 February 2016

Australians biggest money mistakes

Divorce and bad property investments top the charts.

Regrets, we've had a few. A finder.com.au survey to identify the biggest money mistakes made by Australians found that getting divorced and losing money on a property investment are our most frequent errors.

47% of the 1,043 people surveyed said they had made a costly money mistake. Divorce was the most common, with an average cost of $144,774 per person. Property investment was almost as risky, with an average loss of $106,104. (The figure for people claiming having children was their biggest mistake was even higher, at $162,456.) Other common mistakes included excessive gambling, letting a partner control your finances and falling for an online scam.

Men and women had slightly different views. For women, letting their partner control finances was the most common error, while men cited divorce or separation and were also more likely to nominate gambling as a problem.

Here are the most common mistakes and the number of people potentially affected:

MistakeAustralians affected
Divorce/separation1.36 million
Lost money on a property investment1.27 million
Too much gambling1.11 million
Having children1.11 million
Letting partner control finances1.01 million
Caught out by an online scam789,704
Paying too much for a wedding703,866
Dropping out of university549,359
Investing in a pyramid scheme515,024

Most of these mistakes can be avoided or mitigated. Divorce is painful and expensive, but even if you have split up, it should still be possible to refinance. Property investment can be tricky, especially with mooted changes to negative gearing and capital gains, but remains a popular way of increasing overall wealth.

Australians take a very different view to Americans when it comes to money mistakes. A similar survey in the states identified not finishing higher education as the biggest financial mistake.

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