Listen: Ky Chow chats to Katrina Roe about credit card debt in Australia.
Since the day we opened our first bank account or received our first piggy bank, we were taught the habit of saving money.
Yet according to ASIC, accumulating debt seems to be more of our sad reality. The Australian population owes a whopping $32 billion in credit card debt.
In fact, over half of all Australians say that they would not have enough savings to handle a rainy day or a temporary loss of income, according to latest research from the Commonwealth Bank.
This means one in three households in Australia wouldn’t be able to find $500 in an emergency. This puts many people in a vulnerable position, especially if there is a sudden job loss or health concern.
Why have we allowed our debt to get out of hand? Why is this current generation spending so much more than we are earning?
Is Convenience Always Beneficial?
Facilities such as ‘tap and go’ or payWave have given us a whole new level of convenience—but it isn’t necessarily the best thing for our bank balances.
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This is the view of finance and business correspondent, Ky Chow when he chatted to Katrina Roe from Hope Mornings.
“The payWave culture has obviously made paying for things so much easier. It has, perhaps caught a few people unaware in terms of how they monitor their personal finances,” Ky said.
In some cases, withdrawing a certain amount of cash each week can work better for us. It’s easy to visually see how quickly we’re going through it.
“If it’s just a mysterious tap of the card, we don’t know what our balance is and things can get out of hand,” said Ky.
Cultural And Religious Influences on Saving
Another influence on the way we treat our money, is cultural background. Different cultures emphasise the importance of saving money more than others. Generally speaking, people from the Chinese culture, for example, tend to do a lot more saving, not just for themselves but for their children.
This was true for Ky Chow.
“When I was younger I was always taught to save, it’s something that’s built in the Chinese culture,” he said. “I remember speaking to one of my friends from an Anglo background for the first time. To her, week-to-week (spending) was a normal state of living.”
What is it about the Chinese culture that influences their ethos of saving money?
Earlier this year, a new study done by Macquarie University pointed out that the teachings of Confucianism can be a major factor because of the strong emphasis on frugality, security and the family.
Much can be said about the teachings in the Bible as well. The book of Proverbs has a lot of practical guidance when it comes to saving and living wisely. This may be one of the reasons the Jewish culture is known for its frugality too.
“The Bible often portrays cleverness and success as virtues, as signs of wisdom, divine favour and blessing,” writes Dan Pine in JWeekly.
Regardless of your cultural background or spending habits so far, it’s never too late to start learning the habit of saving and avoiding being enslaved to debt.
Maybe it’s time to dust off your little piggy bank and bring it to good use again.