Nila Sweeney

 

A new index by ME bank says 17% of people are too stressed about their finances while 17% aren’t stressed enough. Take the YMM stress test to find out whether you should be more or less worried about your current finances.
 
Members Equity (ME) Bank launched the Financial Comfort Index, which captures not only how confident Aussies feel about their finances but whether those feelings accurately represent the nature of their situation. 
 
The good news is that two-thirds of households have a realistic perception of their financial conditions, meaning their comfort levels matched their actual financial situation. Young couples and retirees had the most accurate attitudes towards their financial circumstances.
 
Singles and childless couples were most content about their finances, as were self-funded retirees.
 
Superannuation balances had the largest impact on one’s feelings about their finances. To a lesser degree, one’s property value also shaped people’s attitudes.
 
Just over half of households (55%) felt comfortable about their debt levels, whilst 62% felt okay in regards to meeting their monthly expenses. However, current cash savings and investment levels were concerns for 24% of respondents.
 
These figures come at a time when the unemployment rate is expected to climb and household savings have soared to 10% - their highest in seven years.
 
“Tracking these key numbers over the months and years will make for fascinating analysis and there is substantial scope to drill into this data further over time", said ME Bank CEO Jamie McPhee. 
 
So where do you fit into this picture? How confident do you feel about the state of your finances? Take this quick test to find out.
 
The YMM great financial stress test
  Question Strongly agree Agree Not sure Disagree Strongly disagree Not applicable
1 I know exactly what my net or take-home pay is each week/fortnight/month            
2 I know exactly how much taxable income I earned last financial year (2010-11)            
3 I always get my taxes done on time at the end of each financial year            
4 I have a savings plan and make regular deposits into a savings account            
5 I know approximately how much money I currently have saved in superannuation            
6 I know the current interest rate on my home loan            
7 I reguarly pay more off my mortgage than the minimum payment required            
8 I have enough cash to survive for at least three months without my regular income            
9 I have income protection insurance            
10 My home and contents are fully insured            
11 My car is comprehensively insured            
12 I have a good idea of what my household expenses are each week/fortnight/month            
13 I always pay my credit cards off in full within the interest-free period            
14 I always pay my regular bills on time (gas, electricity, school fees)            
15 I plan ahead to pay for big expenses like car registration, Christmas and family holidays            
16 I make personal contributions to my superannuation            
17 I never have to use credit to pay for day-to-day expenses like groceries or petrol            
18 I always have enough cash in my transaction account to last from one pay to the next            
19 I keep receipts and check them off against my bank statements each month            
20 I never or rarely feel stressed about my personal finances            
  Total number of ticks in column            

 

Add up your scores to find out what shape your personal finances are currently in:

 

 
5 points for each “strongly agree”
4 points for each “agree” or “not applicable”
3 points for each “not sure”
2 points for each “disagree”
1 point for each “strongly disagree”
 

 

85+ points
 
You should be in excellent financial shape. You watch every dollar and spend carefully. It’s likely you use a budget to keep track of income and expenditure. You’re on top of your super and have a savings strategy. You are likely to be goal-orientated and financial well-being is very important to you. If you have debts they are well in hand and used to grow your wealth over time. As a result it is highly likely that you have a comfortable lifestyle and a healthy attitude towards money and investing. Congratulations!
 
65-85 points
 
You have some good habits but there is still room for improvement. If you make just a few adjustments to the way you manage your personal finances you can reduce stress levels, achieve financial goals and improve your lifestyle.
 
The first step is to review your test answers and circle those questions where you scored three points or less (in other words you were “not sure” or “disagreed”/”strongly disagreed” with the statement). This will enable you to identify your financial management strengths and weaknesses.
 
40-65 points
 
There is plenty of room for improving your finances and reducing stress. You may have a rough idea of what is going on with your mortgage, credit cards and day-to-day spending but with a bit more effort you could really make major progress financially.
 
Under 40 points
 
You could definitely benefit from changing your spending habits and paying more attention to the money coming and what you are spending it on. You are likely to have debts that are causing you some stress, you have an outstanding credit-card balance and you may find it difficult to live on your current income. If this is an accurate description of your current financial situation, taking some small steps could result in bigger improvements than you expect. Don’t be afraid to ask for help - call the financial counselling hotline on 1800 007 007 to speak to a financial counsellor.
 

 

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