Cost of living: Why having honest money conversations could improve your financial wellbeing

  • 03/03/2023
  • Sponsored by - ANZ
Cost of living: Why having honest money conversations could improve your financial wellbeing
Photo credit: Supplied

For many Kiwi families the cost of living crisis is making things tough and giving us anxiety around our financial wellbeing.

This can mean we don't want to think about money, let alone talk about it - but having honest money conversations can be a great way to help our financial situations, and maybe those of others.

New Zealanders are struggling in the current climate with everyday expenses, repaying debt and saving for a comfortable retirement, with four out of five saying they feel like they are either going backwards or just staying afloat

Research shows that one in three of us feel embarrassed about our financial situation, making it uncomfortable to talk about it with others and causing us to self-censor.

But it shouldn't.

"Start with the mindset that I want to get better at this. Then start talking about it," said ANZ Senior Research Manager Grant Andrews.

"Most people appreciate honesty and want to help people that want to help themselves. You may find that the people you speak to say the same - 'I'm not that good with money myself'. And now you're helping both yourself and them.

"Money isn't some dark secret that we should never talk about."

The research also found one in three Kiwis believes they'd be more comfortable talking about their finances if they were more financially savvy, or had the tools to get the conversation started.

But a lack of savviness shouldn't hold anyone back.

"You can just start, like so much else in life. In the beginning we know nothing about pretty much everything, and the good thing is most people don't think they are all that good at this," said Andrews.

"Everyone needs to start somewhere, and talking about it is a great place to start."

Of course, in this day and age it's more comfortable for some people to interact with a website or app than actually talk to someone, at least to begin with.

If chatting with a mate, family member or the bank seems a bit much as a first step, you could start by jumping online and doing a simple assessment of your financial wellbeing score

"This is a simple calculator where you answer a few questions and you get your own score out of 100. It will also tell you how you compare with other people your age," said Andrews.

"Then, based on your score, it will give you some things to work on to start improving your score and hopefully worry less because you are now taking control of your money."

Using the calculator to get an idea of your financial wellbeing score will mean you have more than enough to talk about in a money conversation with someone. Then you're on your way.

As well as having honest conversations about your own finances, it's important to have them with the little people in your life from a young age.

"Our studies have shown that people whose parents provided them with advice on money matters when they were growing up had a three point higher financial wellbeing score on average than those who did not," said Andrews.

"We all want our kids to do well so teaching them about money is an important life lesson. It's good to teach them from an early age about the benefits of saving and developing these habits early and can help them throughout life."

It may feel like money problems are overwhelming at the moment. It may feel like those last few days before pay day are a real struggle and there's nothing spare to go into a savings account or to pay for that holiday you've been thinking about for a few years now.

Talking about how it's hard can help - not because of the old adage that grievance aired is grievance cleared, but because through money conversations come financial solutions.

"Start with your plans and goals. What do you want to do in life? Where do you want to go? What do you want to own? Money is just a tool to help you live the life you want," said Andrews.

"Once you’re clear on your goals you can start taking control and channelling your money towards these. For example, you really want to go to a music festival, so you're going to need money for the tickets and travel. How long have you got to save? How much do you need to save each pay period? Can you earn a little extra somehow? What can you not do to make it possible to save the money - you might take your lunch to work rather than buying it. You might take the bus to work, or cycle, rather than taking the car and paying for parking."

And remember, if you want to talk to an expert rather than a friend or family member about your money, it's free to talk to an expert at your bank. They're not going to judge you or scold you, they'll only offer guidance and ideas and will likely help you start feeling better about things.

Article created in partnership with ANZ.