Saver Plus improves wellbeing of lower-income Australians

16 May 2018

New RMIT research has revealed lower-income Australians who participated in a national financial education program had a higher level of financial wellbeing than the Australian average.

Developed in 2003 by ANZ and the Brotherhood of St Laurence to encourage saving for educational expenses, Saver Plus also includes the incentive of matching participants’ savings. It was the first matched-saving program in Australia and is now the largest and longest-running program of its kind in the world.

The program was developed based on international models showing evidence that building savings and assets can help people overcome disadvantage to improve their wellbeing and fulfil their aspirations for a better life. Saver Plus guides and supports participants, who are all on lower incomes, through their savings ‘journey’.

This includes MoneyMinded workshops that provide skills and a deeper understanding of ways to better manage their limited financial resources, now and in the future.

RMIT’s Saver Plus: Pathways to Wellbeing report explored the connection between active savings behaviour and overall financial wellbeing, with results showing Saver Plus participants had an average financial wellbeing score of 64 out of 100 following the program, above the national average of 59.

Importantly, the study found that up to seven years after completing Saver Plus, 87 per cent of participants were still saving the same amount or more, with 73 per cent better able to provide for their families. Other key findings from the report include:·

  • 72% of respondents reported the total value of their savings and assets had increased since completing Saver Plus
  • 78% of respondents were better able to make ends meet
  • 80% of respondents reported Saver Plus helped them gain more control over their finances

Conny Lenneberg, Executive Director of the Brotherhood of St Laurence said: “For the first time, the research has measured the improvements in financial wellbeing, showing that people who complete Saver Plus are more resilient and have more resources to enjoy life.

“The knowledge and skills they develop help with managing their limited financial circumstances so that they can better deal with any future downturns in their lives, which are often so much harder to overcome if you are on a tight income.”

The free program is funded by ANZ and the Australian Government with more than 36,000 participants have participated since 2003, with the majority being women. Participants set a savings goal for a 10-month period to help with educational costs for themselves or their children.

To date, Saver Plus participants have collectively saved more than $19 million, with ANZ matching these savings, dollar for dollar up to $500 per person.

ANZ Head of Financial Inclusion Michelle Commandeur said, “ANZ is proud to work with our community partners to support thousands of lower-income Australians to build a lasting savings habit. This will equip them to be more in control of their money throughout their lives.“

Saver Plus has proven that, with the right incentives and support, people can successfully build their financial wellbeing, at the same time as building savings for education for themselves and their children,” said Michelle.

Delivered in partnership with The Smith Family, Berry Street, The Benevolent Society and other local community agencies, Saver Plus operates across 60 Australian communities. More information is available on the Saver Plus page and the ANZ website .