Almost a quarter of Australians are now ‘financially fit’, thanks to a healthy savings mentality and a resilient local economy, according to the latest research from Bankwest.

The fifth annual Bankwest Financial Fitness Index found that over 335,000 people have joined the top financial fitness ranks over the last five years.

The study found that just on two per cent of Aussies have significantly increased their financial fitness over the last decade, with 23 per cent of the population deemed to be in tip top financial form.

Bankwest’s Retail Chief Executive, Vittoria Shortt, said that despite, and maybe because of, the GFC taking the wind out of the local economic sails, Aussies are now more inclined than ever to hold onto their hard earned cash and spend it wisely.

“A healthy savings mentality and a resilient local economy have led to a gradual improvement in the nation’s overall financial fitness,” Ms Shortt said.

The Index found that a whopping 58 per cent of Australians have made significant changes to their spending patterns over the last year, with the majority (51 per cent) becoming more conservative.

As was probably expected, Baby Boomers are the generation in the best financial shape, with 30 per cent of that cohort being considered financially fit.

Pre-Boomers came up a close second, with 29 per cent considered financially fit.

Generation Y emerged as the most frugal of the lot, with 99 per cent changing their spending habits, 56 per cent of whom are holding onto their cash.

Western Australia has also emerged as the fittest of the states, with 29 per cent of the state’s population considered financially fit, followed closely by South Australia, which claims 28 per cent of its citizens are financially fit. Both states are well above the national average of 23 per cent.

“The proportion of Australians deemed financially unfit is declining across most states, with Queensland recording a very positive improvement. Some 7% of Queenslanders considered financially unfit 12 months ago have improved their financial position to borderline fitness,” said Ms Shortt.

Victoria posted a slump in the fitness ratings, with only 13 per cent of tis population being described as financially fit.

New South Wales has also suffered a considerable decline in financial fitness, with 32 per cent of its population being considered as financially unfit

“As the third most expensive city in the world, it is understandable that Sydneysiders are facing financial difficulties, particularly as housing costs have risen recently to 2010 levels,” said Ms Shortt.