Higher living costs see Aussies cut back on investing


Living costs see Aussies cut back on investing, the once-in-70-year change coming to our coins, and how to earn money during the referendum. Here are five things you may have missed this week.

Tough times are changing the way we invest

The cost-of-living crunch is seeing Aussies change tack on the way we invest. An HSBC survey found we're scaling back the amount we regularly invest, down to 15.8% of disposable income, compared to 18.3% last year.

aussies cut back on investing as living costs rise

Three in four investors have altered their investment approach, with one in three becoming more conservative. Most noticeably, Australians have pivoted towards bonds, ETFs and managed funds.

Donahue D'Souza, head of investments for HSBC Australia, believes interest rate hikes and concerns of an economic slowdown have dimmed self-directed investor confidence.

More concerning, the research shows less than half (41%) the population own an investment that is not super, a savings account or their home.

"It has been a tough year impacting people in different ways, and we know the main focus in Australian households has been on consolidating debt," says D'Souza.

"However, this should be a trigger for investors to re-evaluate their investment strategies to consider how they can achieve wealth creation outside of superannuation and property."

Referendum: How much is the fine if I don't vote?

Next weekend Australians will head to the polls for The Voice referendum. Voting is compulsory, and if you're eligible to vote - but don't - you can expect to cop a fine, unless:

  • The Electoral Commission is satisfied that you're dead
  • You're absent from Australia on polling day
  • You have a valid and sufficient reason for not voting

If you don't tick these boxes, the $20 fine that applies to deliberate non-voters is hardly a deal breaker, though it is worth paying up on time. Trying to dodge the fine can see you hauled off to court, prosecuted and slapped with a $192.31 penalty.

Fines aside, the referendum offers a chance to earn some money, because the Electoral Commission is still looking for people to fill some of the 100,000 casual jobs at voting centres around the country.

The hourly pay ranges from $23 to $54 plus super and allowances. So, if you're interested, jump onto the Australian Electoral Commission website to register your interest.

King Charles: Coming to a coin near you

More than a year after the Queen's passing, the Mint has announced that King Charles III will start appearing on Aussie coins in time for Christmas.

The first coin featuring the King will be the $1 coin. Other denominations will be progressively released in 2024 based on demand.

The first collector and investment coins bearing the King's profile are expected to be available for sale early next year. But the limited number of 2023 coins featuring the new regent could make them worth holding onto.

It's been seven decades since our currency has featured a new monarch, and in keeping with tradition, the latest coins will see King Charles facing to the left. Queen Elizabeth II faced to the right.

Royal Australian Mint chief executive, Leigh Gordon, says, "Australians can rest assured that all existing coins featuring the late Queen's effigy can continue to be used."

The arrival of the King Charles coins comes at a time when Australians, and our banks, are turning their backs on cash.

Last month, Macquarie Bank joined a growing line-up of banks announcing that it is phasing out cash. By November 2024 Macquarie will no longer offer cash or cheque services across all its banking and wealth management products.

Deadline for 'DIY' tax returns just around the corner

If you plan on taking a DIY approach to your 2022/23 tax return, it's time to get cracking, because DIY tax returns need to be lodged by 31 October.

Australian Tax Office assistant commissioner Rob Thomson says more than 7.9 million people have already lodged their returns. But that's about 400,000 less than this time last year.

People with simple affairs can lodge online, often in under 30 minutes, through myGov. Most of the information you need will already be pre-filled - just check it's correct, add any additional income, and claim the deductions you're entitled to.

"DIY projects can get pretty complicated," says Thomson. "But unlike flatpack furniture, doing your own tax return can be simple thanks to the data we pre-fill for you and the in-built help."

If you need help, be sure to only use a registered tax agent, and be on their books by 31 October.

Aussies $379 billion richer

You may not be feeling richer, but chances are your personal wealth has increased.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) says household wealth rose for the third straight quarter in June, up 2.6%, an increase of $379 billion, bringing total household wealth to $15.1 trillion.

It does help to be a homeowner to share in the spoils. Residential property played a key factor in household wealth, contributing 2.1% to the quarterly growth in wealth.

However, rising superannuation balances also contributed to increased wealth, with the ABS saying super balances were supported by strong performance in overseas share markets, and higher employer contributions.

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A former Chartered Accountant, Nicola Field has been a regular contributor to Money for 20 years, and writes on personal finance issues for some of Australia's largest financial institutions. She is the author of Investing in Your Child's Future and Baby or Bust, and has collaborated with Paul Clitheroe on a variety of projects including radio scripts, newspaper columns, and several books.