What Factors Determine Financial Comfort?
Financial comfort is a concept that can mean all kinds of different things depending on your outlook. For some financial comfort might be owning a house, having no mortgage on that house, having a large pension fund or have a secure job. For others financial comfort could just mean having spare cash at the end of the month or finally achieving a long-term goal to be debt free. I was reading a new piece of study from Hitachi Personal Finance today though which suggests that there may be more factors involved in financial comfort than you might think. Let’s consider two aspects of the report to see if you agree with their overall findings.
The report suggests that in general, we feel at our most comfortable financially at the age of 34 and therefore have the highest comfort index score. It also found that men are more likely to feel this financial comfort than women of a similar age. Between age 18 and age 34 our financial comfort steadily rises before declining after the age of 34. There seems to be a bit of an anomaly from high earners who are around the age of 28 with their feeling of financial comfort going off the chart as the optimism of youth is coupled with a feeling of financial success and they relish their place and financial position in the world around them.
I did find it interesting that the report found that women in general feel less financial comfort than men, especially between the ages of 30 – 35. Why do you think this could be? Could it be down to the fact that people are generally raising young families in those years? Is there still a large income divide or are there less opportunities for women to progress in the workplace or have those days long gone? It’s an interesting subject and a topical one as we currently have the world economic forum going on in Davos and it has been widely publicised that only 15% of the attendees are female, indicating that there is still a big gender divide.
The second point I’ve picked out of the report is the difference in the level of financial comfort between those who own homes and those who rent. The report found that those who own their own homes feel a greater level of financial comfort than those who rent. The level of comfort felt by renters also declines steadily as they get older, I suppose as the prospect of home ownership slips further out of reach.
In this area I would be interested to see how or if these figures change as interest rates increase in the coming years. Will homeowners still feel the same level of financial comfort or will they start to feel the strain a bit more? Or will the fact that they own a home still give them that extra feeling of financial comfort? An updated report will be produced every 3 months so I’ll be keeping a keen eye on the figures.
I know trawling through a set of financial and statistical data isn’t everybody’s idea of fun but as reports go I actually found the data in this one to be quite interesting and insightful, but then I’ve always been a bit of a geek when it comes to finance.
Do you agree or disagree with any aspect of these findings? If so why?