Many Australians are feeling the pinch and are struggling to pay their bills.
Many Australians are feeling the pinch and are struggling to pay their bills.

Aussies skipping meals to pay bills

One in six Australians are unable to pay their household bills on time and some are even going without meals just to get by, alarming new findings have shown.

If an emergency strikes only one in three people say they could raise $3000 quickly.

In financial institution ME's new biannual Household Comfort Report released today it examined the financial affairs of 1500 households in the six months to December.

It showed despite record-low interest rates - which helps those paying back debt including mortgages - many people were struggling to make ends meet.

The report found:

• 17 per cent were not paying household bills on time.

• 13 per cent went without meals

• 18 per cent asked for financial help from friends or family.

• Only 37 per cent of household could raise $3000 in an emergency.

• 7 per cent could not pay their mortgage on time.

• 9 per cent could not pay their rent on time.

One in six Australians are unable to pay their household bills on time and some are even going without meals just to get by, alarming new findings have shown. Picture: iStock
One in six Australians are unable to pay their household bills on time and some are even going without meals just to get by, alarming new findings have shown. Picture: iStock

The report's author Jeff Oughton said the difference in financial comfort between Australians living in metropolitan areas versus regional locations had widened to a record disparity with metros recording 5.76 out of 10, while regions was just 5.08.

He said this was a result of ongoing of regional areas being hit by problems including the drought and recent bushfire catastrophes.

The report also showed 41 per cent of households with mortgage debts were contributing more than 30 per cent of their household income - a high ratio - to pay them off.

Mr Oughton said not all households had benefited from low interest rates.

"For 50 per cent of people it has no impact because they are on fixed incomes, they don't have debt and have low levels of savings," he said.

The Reserve Bank of Australia governor Dr Philip Lowe said last week record-low interest rates were likely to remain low for some time yet.

He warned Australians could be taking on more debt as a result and this could cause problems down the track.

Crown Money Management chief executive officer Scott Parry said if people were unable to save now "then they are going to be in a fair bit of trouble when rates do go up".

"People have two levers: they either increase income or reduce expenses," he said.

"When you do both at the same time you get a great enhancement in your financial progress.

"Look at getting a second job or ask for a pay rise."

Mr Parry urged Australians to regularly review their bills including energy, telco and mortgage expenses to see if they could get a better deal.

sophie.elsworth@news.com.au

@sophieelsworth


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