Instagram and YouTube influencers are setting unhealthy lifestyle expectations, and promoting dangerous attitudes to spending and saving, a new report has warned.
The upcoming Financial Fitness whitepaper from Mortgage Choice and CoreData has found that 35 per cent of Australians feel pressured to maintain a certain lifestyle and appearance – potentially at a cost to their financial health.
For Australians younger than 30, that figure surges to 50 per cent.
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“In contrast, the research found that only 20 per cent of Australians aged between 51 and 60 felt pressured to keep up appearances,” Mortgage Choice CEO Susan Mitchell said.
“This is unsurprising in an age where image is everything, particularly for younger generations and avid users of social media who are bombarded constantly by the enviable lifestyles of Instagram and YouTube influencers.”
Continuing, Mitchell warned that while it’s tempting to keep up appearances, it can be a “dangerous strategy” in the long term.
“Women in particular seemingly have the financial odds stacked up against them in many ways. With the added pressure to keep up appearances, it’s no wonder Australian women are feeling financially stressed,” Mitchell said.
How much would you give up to maintain appearances?
The study found that women (37 per cent) feel more pressure to maintain a certain lifestyle compared to men (32 per cent), with women more likely to forgo dental check-ups (42 per cent) to maintain the lifestyle than men (35 per cent).
Women were also more likely to skip health insurance than men, while 38 per cent of Australians across both genders were forgoing purchasing their own home to keep up appearances.
“The research found that an alarming number of respondents were not saving a portion of their salary, with over 18 per cent of Australians saving nothing each pay cycle and over 8 per cent spending more than they earn,” Mitchell said.
“We all have different needs and priorities. Creating a strategic financial plan with the help of a qualified financial adviser can help people achieve their goals, without giving up everything that is important to them.”
Oh no, that’s me. What can I do?
Mitchell suggested Australians create a financial plan that includes a budget and savings scheme to combat the pressure to maintain appearances.
Additionally, spenders could set up a ‘Money Club’ with their friends to set goals and keep each other accountable.
Or foodies could challenge themselves to finding the best eateries within their budgets, rather than going to the trendy spots.
Fashionistas should “go shopping their wardrobe” and consider selling items they haven’t worn in a while.
However, all of these strategies will work best when coupled with awareness of spending habits.
Mitchell advised savers print out their bank and credit card statements to get a good look at just where their money is going. They should then set up a new bank account that isn’t easily accessed and begin a savings regime where they transfer a certain portion of their salary into the account every pay cycle.
And rewards are critical, she added, suggesting savers set up fortnightly, six-monthly and annual reviews to remember and celebrate goals.
“Having a financial plan doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice the lifestyle you want to live,” Mitchell said.
“You might be surprised to learn that making a few adjustments to the way you use your money could have a significant impact on your overall financial fitness and could help you achieve your long term financial goals.”
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