Why Aussies no longer dream of a white picket fence


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Aussies are swapping out the dream of a white picket fence for the dream lifestyle and combating the cost of living with strengthening financial literacy, new research shows.

Insignia Financial released its inaugural Financial Freedom Report, conducted by research agency McCrindle, showing the financial aspirations of modern-day Aussies have changed.

The report found that 60% of Australians have a stronger desire to achieve their dream lifestyle while only 40% are currently focused on owning their own home.

why aussies are turning their backs on dreams of a white picket fence

Financial independence topped the list, with 55% of respondents confirming this remained their biggest aspiration while 50% said their biggest desire was to take a regular holiday.

Owning a home and maintaining a good work-life balance sat equally (45%) while a trusted group of family and friends closely followed (44%).

The shift in priorities coincides with post-pandemic pressures and the cost of living crisis which has forced three in five Aussies to adjust household spending and budgets, Insignia says.

"It's clear Australians have changed their priorities in life from the traditional dream of owning a home to living their dream lifestyle, which, is under pressure from the current economic climate," says Insignia Financial chief executive Renato Mota.

"Australians are deeply aware of their financial well-being because it ultimately enables them to achieve the things that matter most to them, whether that be travel or spending time with loved ones."

The report also assessed generational pursuits, finding 63% of Gen Z respondents remained focused on becoming homeowners while 54% of Millennials prioritised a good work-life balance overall.

When it came to Gen X and Baby Boomers, both cohorts said financial independence was number one.

According to the data, younger Australians are more driven to strengthen financial education, with 82% of Gen Z and 77% of Millennials focused on this area compared to 59% of Gen X and 38% of Baby Boomers.

The younger generations also agreed a lack of financial literacy would remain a barrier to pursuing their financial aspirations, however financial literacy is overall lacking across the nation. Of those surveyed, 31% admitted to receiving no financial education in childhood while 35% said they received a small amount and 22% received a fair amount.

Unsurprisingly it was females who were the most disadvantaged when it came to financial knowledge; Insignia found younger women in particular suffered and reported receiving either no financial education or a small amount.

When compared, 20% of Gen Z females said they received no education while only 11% of Gen Z males said they were in the same boat.

On the other hand, 28% of Millennial women missed out compared to 11% of their male counterparts.

Despite the discrepancy, 55% of females are working hard to achieve their dreams compared to 44% of men, Insignia says.

There is no doubt a dip in financial literacy, but regardless Australians of all ages are still hungry to learn.

Insignia found more than half (58%) want to manage their money better, while 63% of the population are dedicating more focus to increasing their knowledge when compared to 12 months ago.

McCrindle founder and principal Mark McCrindle says Australians are known for their "can-do attitude".

"According to the research, Australians are demonstrating this positive attitude in the pursuit of financial independence, whether that be through spending more time working to increase their financial knowledge or actively seeking the tools to help them do so," he says.

This article first appeared on Financial Standard

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Cassandra Baldini was a senior journalist at Financial Standard from June 2022 to December 2023. Prior to this, she was a reporter at the Daily Telegraph's digital subsidiary News Local covering court, crime and community news. She held various roles at Bloomberg in the London newsroom, and worked at Vanguard and Sony. She has a Bachelor's degree in Journalism from Macleay.