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Australians are a nation of spenders but there is something you can do about it. - featured image

Australians are a nation of spenders but there is something you can do about it.

Are you a saver or a spender?

The latest research suggests most Australians are poor savers. money savings

But the good news is you can be reprogrammed - there's a short video later in this blog that explains how.

You see...according to new research from UBank  2 million Australians have less than $1,000 in savings and a further 35% do not have a dedicated savings account.

Apparently Australians are spending $31 billion in savings annually* as short-term thinking, poor planning and impulse spending habits threaten long-term financial security.

Ubank also found 61% of people are living without a dedicated savings plan and 46% without a weekly budget.

In addition, more than half of Australians (57%) are dipping into their savings regularly for ad-hoc special purchases and bills, amounting to $2.6 billion nationally drawn from bank balances each month.

For 1 in 3 surveyed (35%), all of their money is spent by pay-day.

The flow-on effect is a cycle of debt for as many as 1 in 4 (27%) who claim to have ‘a lot’ of debt, including 8% who are not in control of their debt at all, and admit it’s now impacting their wellbeing.

More money is being spent on immediate rewards

Consumers tend to prioritise short-term gains with the research indicating that 45% of respondents confirmed that, more often than not, their money is being spent on items or experiences that make them happy.

So while almost one quarter (22%) of Australians are actively trying to save, the pursuit of immediate reward is proving a frequent distraction; creating a habit where, as soon as money comes in, it’s already on its way out.

The good news is...

The research  reveals there’s a science behind spending & saving and we can re-wire ourselves to think differently. 

UBank introduces the Science of Spending & Saving Experiment

To uncover the reasons for this widespread behaviour and understand why people aren’t prioritising decisions that benefit their future, UBank conducted a unique study in partnership with Dr. Phil Harris, an Honorary Fellow at the University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Business and Economics and an expert in Consumer Neuroscience at Nuro Research.

Lee Hatton, CEO of UBank commented,

“We wanted to understand the mindset behind spending and saving at a deeper level and ultimately see if we can be re-wired to think differently.

“We tested the hypothesis that so many Australians are favouring immediate rewards over long-term gains because they’re actually quite disconnected from their future selves.”

To do this, UBank worked with Dr Harris to capture the reactions of 50 participants, aged 22-50, as they responded to a series of financial decision-making tasks while Electroencephalography (EEG) technology read brain wave activity via electrode sensors were placed on the scalp.

The experiment firstly tested responses to common financial scenarios, recording how the brain reacts to receiving and spending money.

The next phase of the experiment saw participants confronted with an image of their ‘future selves’ – a digitally manipulated photograph aged by 10 to 20 years – and then they were asked to complete another round of financial decisions as brain activity responses were again captured.

Watch this short video to hear how the participants' mindset changed.

UBank’s Science of Spending & Saving Experiment

The majority of people change their mindset towards money when they see their future self

Dr Harris explains,

“Humans are wired to want rewarding outcomes immediately, so it was very interesting to conduct this experiment. The results found that the people were significantly more likely to choose to save money when they became more in touch with their future self. bank-savings-house-couple-save-property-meeting-budget-300x199

“After interacting with visualisations of themselves later in life, 72% of participants shifted their mindset towards wanting to save versus spend money.

“The experiment also found that when we measured brain activity after the participants had met their future selves, there was a 150% increase in attention paid to the moment of choice between saving cash versus spending it. This shows that when we are in touch with our future selves, we invest more mental effort into creating a positive financial future rather than wanting to have immediate rewards.

“When putting participants through the first round of financial scenarios, the results showed that it took a large sum of money to tempt people into depositing money versus spending it. But once they engaged with their future self, it took a significantly lower amount to tempt participants into wanting to save money.

This shows that while our natural default setting is to seek immediate rewards, there is a way to train your brain to become financially smarter.”

Maybe now is a good time to look at your spending habits.

About Michael is a director of Metropole Property Strategists who help their clients grow, protect and pass on their wealth through independent, unbiased property advice and advocacy. He's once again been voted Australia's leading property investment adviser and one of Australia's 50 most influential Thought Leaders. His opinions are regularly featured in the media. Visit
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