It is only the fifth-largest source of financial worry.
Summary: Energy costs, interest rates, petrol prices and loss of job rank ahead of the share market in terms of consumer fears for 2019.
Key take-out: Over half of Australians save 10 per cent or less of their after-tax income.
Fewer than one-in-10 Australians view share market volatility as a major monetary worry heading into 2019, according to a new report.
Despite a mixed year across the markets – headlined by rising international tensions, a cooling property market, and an up-and-down ASX – Canstar’s Consumer Pulse Report 2018 found that only 7 per cent of Aussie consumers listed the direction of the share market as their number one financial fear for next year. However, that figure does represent more than double the number from last year (3 per cent).
The greatest source of financial angst for Australians in the lead-up to 2019 is power costs, with 20 per cent of respondents listing this as their primary monetary worry, compared to 30 per cent in 2017.
Canstar's Group Executive, Financial Services, Steve Mickenbecker says consumers’ concerns should lie elsewhere.
“The biggest financial concern people have is the cost of power,” he said. “At the same time only  per cent of people cite interest [rate] increases as their greatest concern.
“Keeping in mind a 1 per cent interest rate increase will eclipse most annual power bills, not just the increases, and rates will go up; only timing is in doubt.
People have lost perspective because the power bill hits them between the eyes quarterly.
Petrol prices and concerns surrounding job security (8 per cent each) also ranked ahead of the share market in terms of top financial fears for the next 12 months.
In another sign that Aussies aren’t deterred by the negativity surrounding markets, 48 per cent of those surveyed claim to be comfortable with their financial position. In contrast, only 25 per cent of Australians consider themselves uncomfortable with their current financial situation, down from a year ago.
Meanwhile, the report also found that a staggering 51 per cent of Australians save a maximum of 10 per cent of their after-tax income, which represents a slight improvement over last year’s figure of 55 per cent.
Twenty-four per cent of Aussies claim to save none of their income, while 27 per cent save between 0 and 10 per cent.
The most quoted reason for the lack of saving is that people simply can’t afford to save, with just under 70 per cent of non-savers stating that they live on a pay cheque to pay cheque basis. Interestingly, 8 per cent of non-savers said that saving doesn’t register as one of their financial goals.
Among those who are saving, holidays are the number one priority, with 21 per cent of savers naming this as their overriding savings goal. Other prominent savings goals include retirement (16 per cent of savers), buying a home (13 per cent) and living expenses (12 per cent).
Mickenbecker says Aussies should consider deploying their savings in a different manner.
“Home loan interest rates may be at all-time lows, but Australians are not using the opportunity to get ahead on their loans,” he said. “43 per cent of home loan borrowers are less than three months ahead.
“The worry is that we are not squirrelling away a buffer for the inevitable interest rate increases, that will arrive sooner or later.
“With repayments at stress levels for recent borrowers, the future is worrying.”
Canstar’s Consumer Pulse Report 2018 is based on a survey conducted in November of 2,090 Australians.