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Bill stress skyrockets: Aussies anxiety about paying energy bills doubles in just six months

Updated 04/12/2023
Bill stress skyrockets: Aussies anxiety about paying energy bills doubles in just six months
Key statistics from this release:
  • 47% of Australians are now anxious about affording their utility bills, including electricity, gas, water, broadband, a doubling since May (23.4%).

  • Stress over affording mortgages, rent and general insurance (car, home and pet) also rise since May. 

  • Victorians are most stressed about energy. 

  • Queensland’s stress levels over personal loans & Buy Now Pay Later is very high.

  • WA has the highest stress about mortgages. 

  • 25-44 year-olds, parents, and Low-Income Earners have shown the largest increase in financial stress levels.

  • More Australians than ever before say that over half their income is going on affording bills, with 71% cutting back on non-essential spending to afford them.

Compare Club's November 2023 Bill Stress Index reveals energy bills, mortgages and rent are driving up stress levels in Australian households

Financial marketplace and advice company Compare Club has released its biannual Bill Stress Index*, revealing that anxiety about paying utility bills, including electricity, gas, water and broadband have doubled since May 2023, making this Australia’s most stressful bill.** 

As of November, 46.76% of Australians reported feeling "extremely stressed" about utility bills, a sharp rise from the 23.4% recorded in May.

Other bills that are causing anxiety in households include:

  • Mortgages: 33% of people are stressed about this cost, up from 27% in May.

  • Rent: Up to 24% from 16%

  • General Insurance (car, home & pet): Up to 22% from 18%

However, there is some good news with households in general seeing stress levels over health insurance, car loans and life insurance dip in the last six months, with many people already proactively switching these expenses.  

While the general sentiment is that we are coping, we are more stressed than we were six months ago with 3 in 10 people spending 50%-75% of their income on monthly bills.

Perhaps the strongest indicator of bill stress is that people aged between 35 to 44 are spending 75% or more of their incomes on monthly bills: a 220% increase since May.

“This  increase in bill-related anxiety in such a short amount of time really shows the real  impact of inflation and the rising cost of living on Australians. It’s quite clear that the strategy of raising rates to manage the economy is putting many people under a huge amount of financial stress,” said Kate Browne, Compare Club’s Head of Research.

The research shows the least stressed groups are aged over 55 or people with no kids. 

Interestingly, while stress remains high, there has been a decline in the number of people paying their bills late.

To cope with increasing bills, 71.63% of Australians have cut back on non-essential spending (up from 59% in May) and there’s been a slight rise from 50% to 56% in those who are actively budgeting.

However, there’s been a steep decline in the number of Aussies seeking financial advice, while we’re 27% less likely to switch providers in search of a better deal, despite a recent Compare Club analysis showing that there were up to $11,000 worth of savings to be made for some households.

In more positive news, the use of credit cards, Buy Now Pay Later Services and personal loans for bill payments decreased, while there was a slight overall decline in people saying they were struggling to pay their bills, suggesting that while times are tight, many households have used the past six months to take action. 

Despite mortgage stress being the second biggest concern for Aussie households, fewer people said they switched providers compared to six months ago. 

“What our brokers are seeing with mortgages is that those who were able to refinance, have done, while those who haven’t either don’t think they can find a better rate or are stuck in mortgage prison because lenders aren’t willing to take a risk on them. But that doesn’t mean you should despair. The housing market is moving all the time, so speak to a broker and explore every avenue you can to see if there’s a way to get your payments down,” said Kate.

In contrast to mortgages, more Australians are actively seeking better deals for their utilities. The survey reports a significant increase in people switching their utility providers, from 20% in May to 41% in November.

“Energy and broadband services can seem overly complicated, full of jargon  and hard to understand,  but are actually reality some of the easiest services to switch.  We recommend looking at all your utilities services at least once a year and it can be as easy as making a phone call to get it done.”

“Depending on where you live, there’s potentially hundreds of dollars in savings to be had, while pensioners and parents can take advantage of government rebates to knock even more off their energy bills.” said Kate.

Overall, more people looked for better deals in utilities from May to November, while fewer people switched their mortgage or loan providers.

Compare Club’s top tips to get on top of Utility bill stress 

  • Fixing Rates: Consider locking in your energy rates to protect against price fluctuations.

  • Check for Rebates: Explore available government rebates and incentives that can help lower your utility costs.

  • Bill Smoothing: Utilize bill smoothing options offered by providers to spread out your payments evenly over the year, avoiding seasonal peaks. 

“Bill smoothing is a payment option offered by many utility companies to help customers manage their bills. In a nutshell rather than getting a bill each quarter and not knowing what you’ll be in for depending on the season, bill smoothing sees customers paying a regular bill each month (which can be adjusted if usage is under what’s predicted.)

"It helps in avoiding large, one-off bills, making household budgeting more predictable and manageable,” said Kate.


*Research conducted by Pollfish; 1000 total respondents in November **Research conducted by Pollfish; 1000 total respondents in May

For media enquiries & to request a copy of the report:

Jasmine Kostas Media + Capital Partners 0425 327 224 jasmine.kostas@mcpartners.com.au

Infographics available for media HERE About Compare Club

Compare Club is one of Australia’s fastest-growing personal finance marketplaces, it helps Australians save money by navigating complicated and important financial decisions. Compare Club’s panel of experts offer bespoke advice to over 4.5 Million members making 1 Million product enquiries per year on key financial decisions, including health insurance, electricity & gas bills, personal, car and home loans. Compare Club is locally owned and employs over 450 passionate staff across Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and another 50 staff in Indonesia and the Philippines.