The West

Household savings fell in December.
Household savings fell in December.

Improving house and share prices are strengthening the finances of self-funded retirees and families with teenage children.

But a nationwide survey reveals growing concern about finding a job is cutting across all parts of the country.

Compiled for ME Bank, the survey into the financial psychology of Australian households showed overall household comfort remaining at its highest level in two years.

But much of that comfort is flowing through to two particular groups in the community: self-funded retirees and families who are in established housing.

Both groups are benefiting from the lift in house prices. Figures due out today from RP Data-Rismark are expected to confirm prices lifting in some capitals by 13 per cent over the past year.

Retirees have also done well out of the jump in share prices, swelling their superannuation nest eggs.

While these groups are reporting an improvement in their financial comfort levels, it's a different story for single parents, especially those reliant on government payments.

There is also growing concern among all working age groups about job prospects.

ME chief executive Jamie McPhee said job insecurity was now one of the three biggest concerns among households, with 31 per cent reporting anxiety.

Fifty-five per cent of households said there would be substantial concerns about finding a job within two months if they were to lose their current job.

"The rise in job insecurity, a result of increasing unemployed persons and increasing casual/part-time jobs is exacerbated by a relatively low level of household comfort with emergency cash buffers and more generally current savings and investments," Mr McPhee said.

He said the fall in comfort among single parents was being driven by concern over tightening of Federal Government assistance which started with the new year.

Financial comfort in WA continues to fall and is now only slightly above the national average. The survey, carried out by ME every six months, also showed the continuing problems Australians have in controlling their spending.

Less than half of households reported they earned more than they spent in a month.

While 47 per cent of people said they set a monthly budget, 48 per cent reported staying within that budget.

About 11 per cent of people spend more than they earn in a month, relying on savings, loans or equity in their home to get by.

The West Australian

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