How do Aussie attitudes on cost of living compare to the rest of the world?

australia on the globe attitudes on cost of living compared to rest of the world

As Aussies, it’s easy to forget that we’re living on a little island disconnected from the rest of the world. With the cost of living continuing to climb, and rising rates adding pressure on homeowners (all while home ownership feels like a distant fantasy for others), you’d be forgiven for feeling a little less than optimistic about the financial future.

It turns out that Australians are actually some of the more optimistic ones when it comes to attitudes around their finances, with 52% of us feeling optimistic that our financial situation will improve over the next three years.

Though this is just a little more than half, it’s staggering when compared to Sweden’s 33% or Japan’s 17% expecting a financial uptick. In fact, across Deloitte’s Consumer Behaviour Trends State of the Consumer Tracker, only nine of the 24 countries surveyed expressed this economic optimism.

We’re in interesting company in seeing brighter days ahead. Leaders in positive thinking are India (76%), Brazil (71%), and South Africa (71%), while we sit at a similar level to the USA (55%) and Canada (46%). A clear trend towards pessimism can be seen in Europe, with every single European nation surveyed seeming to fear the future in finance.

Australia: A land of golden cards

Despite experiencing significant levels of financial stress, Australians sit reasonably comfortably on a global scale when it comes to our personal finances and the ways we pay. 

Aussie credit card use was about average, with 26% of Australians in this continued survey saying they used credit cards to make their pay last longer. This explains the 27% surveyed who said they were concerned about their credit card balance

Looking to the US, who claimed a similar rate of credit card use to extend their pay, 48% of people said they were concerned about their credit card balance. It would seem like Aussies don’t feel like they’re biting off more than they can chew, unlike in some other countries.

In fact, most countries with their attitudes tracked express a lot more concern about their credit card balances than Australia. From Mexico (60%) to Japan (67%), credit card concerns are a cross-cultural phenomenon - and Australia is well positioned.

Future concerns and safety nets

Setting aside that stress, Aussies are feeling okay with their savings - when you compare us to the rest of the world.

Asked if they were concerned about how much they had in their savings, 44% of Australians responded that they were. That’s a lot of stressed out Aussies fretting over their funds, but it’s a figure that’s trending downwards since a 2021 peak.

Meanwhile, countries like the USA up this stress-level considerably, with 61% of Americans worried about their savings balance. That figure is similar in Poland (65%) and the UAE (61%), with figures in the sixties. Australia’s savings stress sits right at the low end of the spectrum alongside Denmark and India (both 43%).

Those figures are a cold comfort to the everyday Aussies who have had to dip into their savings to support themselves as the cost of living has crept upwards and expenses like fuel, electricity, groceries, and rent or mortgage repayments have grown.

What might resonate is a much more overwhelming statistic: 80% of Aussies are concerned about the prices rising on everyday items.

This is a far more universal finding, with the number looking similar in nearly every surveyed country. The US charts it at 83%, the UK and Canada at 82%, Spain at 87%, and South Africa at 89%.

Even in countries that traditionally buck the trends - China, notably, are outliers on many points - 59% shared concern about rising prices. 

The cost of living can be overwhelming, and we’re all in it together - apparently, all over the world. 

Feeling a bit of budget stress? Check out 10 tips for handling the rising cost of living and our guide to creating a budget.