More Aussies 'are struggling financially'

By Mozo ·

More and more Aussies are struggling to stay in control of their money situation, a new report by the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) has suggested.

In its latest annual review, the organisation discovered that a greater number of people are finding it hard to keep up with their personal and home loan repayments, the Australian Associated Press reports.

At the same time, many households are drowning in a sea of credit card debt.

Non-profit groups that offer financial advice have reported a surge in calls from worried Aussies in the past 12 months.

Indeed, the FOS has dealt with 36,000 disputes in 2011-12, which represents a 19 per cent rise on the previous year.

A large number of these grievances (27 per cent) came from people with credit cards and the body also confirmed that a lot of businesses have also sought expert help.

"The continued rise in disputes about financial difficulty suggests that a growing number of Australians are struggling financially and finding it hard to keep up on their payments," the report stated.

Leaders at the FOS also highlighted a sharp increase in "general insurance disputes", which accounted for 29 per cent of all the complaints received by the organisation.

Many of these calls related to the floods in Queensland and Victoria, although the group insisted there had also been a notable upturn in "standard" insurance grievances.

With so many people clearly struggling to make ends meet, it is no surprise that spending levels have fallen across the country in recent months.

According to the Commonwealth Bank, credit and debit card transactions were down by 1.2 per cent in October in seasonally adjusted terms and Aussies are likely to be a bit more frugal this Christmas.

While the festive season usually encourages people to be frivolous with their cash, the high cost of living and large debts that households are sitting on could restrict the amount of money spent on presents, food and services this year.

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