Almost one in five Australians living pay to pay



Almost 20 per cent of adults in Australia are living pay to pay according to a new survey released today by the National Australia Bank (NAB).

The survey, commissioned by NAB and conducted by Newspoll, found that;
•    Almost one in five adults in Australia (18.7 per cent) rarely or never have any money left at the end of a pay cycle
•    People living in regional areas (22.7 per cent) are more likely to be caught short at the end of a pay period than those living in capital cities (16.4 per cent)
•    This is despite the vast majority of people (70.4 per cent) considering themselves to be good at managing their money
•    16.4 per cent of people sold something they owned when they found themselves without money at the end of a pay cycle, while the most common solution was to access savings (70 per cent) or use a credit card (40 per cent)
•    A dental or medical expense (46.1 per cent) was the most common unexpected expense experienced by respondents in the last 12 months, followed by a higher than expected household bill (42.3 per cent) and car repairs (40.3 per cent)

More than three million adults in Australia are financially excluded according to the latest NAB Measuring Financial Exclusion in Australia report, meaning that they don’t have access to products such as a moderate amount of credit, a basic transaction account or general insurance.

Good Shepherd Microfinance CEO, Adam Mooney said that the disconnect between how well people think they manage their money and the reality of being caught short at the end of a pay cycle suggests that some people in our community are not prepared for unexpected expenses.

“When people have no buffer to cope with unexpected expenses like a car or washing machine breaking down, or a change in personal circumstances such as an illness or divorce, problems can quickly build up and become a significant financial and emotional burden,” Adam Mooney said.

“People who find themselves in difficult financial situations often seek quick fixes such as selling their possessions or getting a high cost payday loan. While satisfying the immediate need, these solutions can lead to bigger problems down the track.”

NAB Group Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Thorburn, said: “As Australians, we pride ourselves on giving people a fair go and at NAB we think that includes having access to fair and affordable finance when you need it.  This small hand up can disrupt the cycle of disadvantage and lead to real and positive change.

“A loan is more than money.  It’s a vote of confidence that makes you feel valued and empowered to stand on your own two feet. NAB is the only bank to have taken real action on the issue of financial exclusion by providing $130 million in loan capital to microfinance – not just because it’s doing the right thing.  We believe in helping more people to become financially successful and through this, supporting our nation to prosper.”

In addition to NAB’s microfinance programs, it remains the only major bank to offer all of its customers a fully featured transaction account for no monthly account keeping fees without conditions, saving them $5 every month.

The release of the survey coincides with the launch of ‘Stop Small Problems Getting Big’, a joint campaign between NAB and Good Shepherd Microfinance. The campaign reaches out to people experiencing financial hardship, who are often locked out from mainstream banking, to show that there is a safe and affordable alternative to high cost fringe lenders.

About the survey

Newspoll conducted an independent telephone survey of 1,205 Australian adults aged 18 years and over in July 2014.  Data was collected in line with ISO 20252 – Market, Social and Opinion Research and has been weighted with current ABS population demographics to ensure any extrapolation of results is representative of age, sex and area.

About our partnership

NAB and Good Shepherd Microfinance have worked together since 2003 to address financial exclusion, providing more than 100,000 no or low interest loans to people living on low incomes in Australian. NAB also offers microenterprise loans to help people who can’t access mainstream finance start their own businesses.

NAB has committed $130 million in capital to support lending to people on low incomes. Together, NAB and Good Shepherd Microfinance have set a goal of improving financial inclusion for one million people on low incomes by 2018.  For more information on NAB’s work in this area, including the 2013 Measuring Financial Exclusion in Australia report, please visit



Related Articles

  • Half Year Results

Video: NAB CEO Andrew Irvine discusses 2024 Half Year Result

In this video interview NAB CEO Andrew Irvine reflects on NAB’s 2024 Half Year Results, economic conditions and the bank’s strategic direction.

  • 02.05.2024
  • Time to read 1 min read
  • Half Year Results

NAB announces 2024 Half Year Results

NAB has today released its 2024 Half Year Results to the market.

  • 02.05.2024
  • Time to read 1 min read
  • Executive Team

NAB Executive Leadership Team changes

National Australia Bank Group Chief Executive Officer Andrew Irvine has announced changes to NAB’s Executive Leadership Team.

  • 10.04.2024
  • Time to read 2 min read

Quick links

National Australia Bank — NAB

Sometimes When The Unexpected Happens, We Realise What We Truly Value. Whether A Home, Farm, Business Or Your Passion, NAB Is Here To Support You.

Business Research and Insights

For more business news and analysis, visit NAB’s Business Research and Insights.