What do Australians really want?

What do Australians really want? I don’t mean what we say out loud or what we think our friends want to hear.

I’m talking about your inner most hopes and dreams.

My company surveyed 6,500 Australians recently and asked them what they wanted out of life. The respondents could choose from thirty aspirations covering retirement, lifestyle, career, property, money and family. The most popular category was lifestyle. Twenty-four per cent of respondents listed achieving their lifestyle priorities was their most important dream, followed by property (23 per cent) and family (21 per cent).

Given the intense focus on the economy and property in the news, I thought property would top the list. And I expected money and career to rank high with Australians too. But money and career dreams were only selected by 13 and 11 per cent respectively.

The top five hopes and dreams of our sample – a spread of ages, genders, incomes and postcodes – came out with a financial flavour, but lifestyle was still at the top. Australia’s top five hopes and dreams are: 1. Travel and see the world; 2. Buy my first home; 3. Get my debt under control; 4. Pay off my mortgage; and, 5. Own my own business.

The interconnectedness of great experiences – alongside concerns about buying property and controlling debt – to me is very Australian. Work hard – play hard. Life is a balance.

But it also underscores the financial base that most people are seeking before they get to enjoy their leisure. And how do they get it right? For most people this is going to be a process of making good decisions during their working lives. Effective wealth strategies include paying off a mortgage so they own their home, building enough superannuation to pay themselves income in retirement and having other investments such as an investment property, publicly-traded shares or a stake in their own business.

If you’re lucky, you have the financial acumen to make these decisions yourself. But if you don’t have the confidence and knowledge, you’ll have to get advice. Even if you already have a good idea of how you’re going to build wealth so you can travel the world, you can still use an adviser to helping with planning and taxes, specific shares, or the right premium for a life insurance policy.

Getting the financials right takes care of many of your money-based hopes and dreams. But when you look at the research, you see what people are really hoping and dreaming for. So here’s another way of looking at the daunting prospect of all that financial planning. Treat your financial plan with the same enthusiasm that you conjure your itinerary for travelling around the world. You don’t need to be an expert to dream of travelling, but you’d still use experts to help you get the most out of your trip.

It’s the same with your finances: you have the dream – an expert can help make it a reality.

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