Cost of living: More than half of New Zealanders grappling with money - report

  • 15/08/2023

People are increasingly struggling to handle their finances amid the cost of living squeeze, a Retirement Commission survey has found.

Of those surveyed, 55 percent were struggling with their financial situation - with 51 percent saying they were "starting to sink".

Meanwhile, 3.5 percent of those surveyed said they were "sinking badly".

Tom Hartmann, the lead of personal finance from the money educational organisation Sorted, said the survey results showed a significant reduction in "people's ability to grow their money for tomorrow, which has long-term consequences for their future financial wellbeing".

The Retirement Commission/Te Ara Ahunga Ora said financial stresses were disproportionately impacting women, Māori and Pasifika.

"Sixty percent of the average population have experienced financial stress within the last year, however this was significantly higher for 18-35-year-olds at 76 percent, Māori at 76 percent and 78 percent of Pasifika," commission research lead Jo Gamble said.

It was important for people struggling with their finance to reach out for support, Dr Gamble said in a statement.

"Financial stress can ripple across a person's whole life impacting not only their financial wellbeing but how they relate to their friends and family, and the choices they make socially."

Photo credit: Getty Images

While prices were rising, it was important New Zealanders' continued working on their financial behaviour, Hartmann said.

"The research showed some positive movements across all groups with people focusing on their money management skills - including keeping a close watch on their money and considering purchases before they buy them.

"Developing these skills means New Zealanders may be in a better position to improve their financial position once cost of living pressures ease.

"When money is tight it can be challenging to keep budgets on track, but developing money management skills can help people keep going during tough times and then help them get ahead when costs decrease," said Hartmann.