Making ends meet


Theme: Secure
Dimension: Having financial security and access to housing


  • Proportion of households who experienced a cash flow problem in last 12 months
  • Proportion of households unable to raise $2,000 when needed

Why does this matter

Financial security is an important determinant of personal wellbeing.

Financial stress indicators can provide an indication of how many Australians lack financial security.

Has there been progress

The proportion of households experiencing financial stress has increased since 2006. In 2020, around one in five households experienced each of the two financial stress indicators: cash flow problems and unable to raise funds. The proportion of households experiencing cash flow problems increased over this period from 18.5 per cent to 20.7 per cent. Similarly, the proportion of people unable to raise $2,000 within a week, when needed, has increased from 14.5 per cent in 2006 to 18.7 per cent in 2020.1

Differing household composition is associated with different levels of reported financial stress. For example, in 2020 one parent families with dependent children were more likely to just break even most weeks than couple parent families with dependent children – 48.6 per cent compared to 34.4 per cent.2

The impact of COVID-19 pandemic, global price shocks, inflation and the impact of interest rate rises on households is not captured in the latest ABS release (2020). More recent survey data has highlighted these factors are placing additional pressure on household budgets and the number of Australians experiencing financial hardship.3

1 Australian Bureau of Statistics (2020) General Social Survey, ABS website, accessed 6 July 2023.

2 Australian Bureau of Statistics (2020), ‘Table 15.3 All Households, Household Income and Wealth–By Family composition of household, proportion of households’, General Social Survey: Summary Results, Australia, ABS website, accessed 6 July 2023.

3 NAB (2022), NAB Consumer Insights Survey: Financial Hardship – Q4 2022, accessed 6 July 2023.

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