Most Aussies ‘7 payments ahead of mortgage’

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Newly released CBA research shows more than two-thirds of homeowners are ahead of their mortgage payments and Australians are saving the biggest slice of their income since the 1980s.

CBA's study involving 1.8 million home loan borrowers found 68% are ahead of their mortgage repayments, by an average of seven payments.

It also examined household savings rates and found that Australians are now saving 10.8% of their disposable income, up from just 0.3% in 2005-06.

CBA chief economist Michael Blythe says there’s an “abundance” of pessimistic news about the economy and says this can create a perception that doesn't reflect some of the positive things happening in the national economy.

"It is tough for many consumers and businesses at the moment but the patchwork nature of our economy means some positive indicators might be missed.''

Blythe says the trend of saving more started in the mid-2000s but was given "a huge kick-along'' by the global financial crisis.

He says most households are still pessimistic about the outlook, and this has been a key reason for the RBA’s interest rate cuts this year.

"The Reserve Bank is making it clear that they want to see more activity in the non-mining part of the economy, and housing is one of the areas they are looking to get moving.''

It’s estimated every $1 of spending on new housing generates another $1.31 of spending elsewhere in the economy.

Assist Finance chief executive Jason Di Iulio told reporters the increased focus on debt repayment and savings illustrates that people are nervous about the economy and their jobs.

"They are reducing debt at the expense of luxury spending.”

He says the trend of maintaining mortgage payments at the same level even when rates are cut is a smart move.

``It will reduce debt faster and take real advantage of the rate cuts. If you have non-income-producing debt, you should be paying it off as fast as possible, which will benefit you later in life.'' 

AUSTRALIA’S HOUSEHOLD SAVINGS RATES (Australian Bureau of Statistics)

Income saved:

2003-04 0.8%

2004-05 0.8%

2005-06 0.3%

2006-07 4.3%

2007-08 4.3%

2008-09 9.6%

2009-10 9.3%

2010-11 10.8%

2011-12 10.8%

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