March 3, 2022

NAB Australian Wellbeing Survey Q4 2021

Wellbeing rose in Q4 to levels last seen before the pandemic & household financial stress remains well below the survey average.


The NAB Australian Wellbeing Index rebounded sharply in Q4 2021 as much of the country emerged from extended lockdowns. Wellbeing is now at its highest level since Q3 2019. Concern over COVID also fell to its lowest since the pandemic began and Australians were also little more optimistic about the future. In terms of financial wellbeing, the NAB Household Financial Stress Index was broadly unchanged and continues to trend well below the survey average. High income earners on balance believe they are financially better off and low income groups worse off. The share of Australians who reported a decrease in their incomes in the last 3 months improved significantly, but particularly for higher income earners. On average Australians who expect their incomes to increase over the next year (around 1 in 4) believe it will rise by around $198 per week or $10,300 annually. Around 3 in 4 Australians were trying to save in Q4, but on balance actual savings fell.

New NAB research shows the biggest challenges to managing our personal finances is dipping into savings, followed by impulse spending. The most challenging thing about saving according to 1 in 4 Australians is spending on debt repayments, bills and everyday expenses. On balance, slightly more Australians made inroads into reducing household debt levels in Q4. Overall debt stress moderated and is well below the level of stress associated with savings or income. Individually, pay day loans caused the most (and higher) stress in Q4. Personal loans were the next biggest driver of debt stress and was noticeably higher in the lowest income group. Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) loan stress also rose and was much higher for men and for those in the lowest income group. Slightly more Australians said they had experienced financial hardship, however overall levels are still trending below the survey average. New research shows that over 1 in 5 Australians missed a bill or loan payment in the past 3 months, rising to 1 in 2 in the NT. The most common missed payments were gas, electricity, water, phone or internet.

The survey was conducted between 25 November and 13 December, around the time the first cases of the Omicron COVID-19 strain were detected in late November 2021, but closing just as the number of daily cases began growing exponentially in mid-December (peaking at over 110,000 cases in mid-January).

Find all the insights in NAB Australian Wellbeing Survey (Q4 2021)