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More Kiwis are struggling financially – Retirement Commission

More than half of New Zealanders are struggling with their financial situation, according to new research commissioned by the Retirement Commission.

In an article published in NZ Adviser, the TRA survey of 4,000 people found that 55% of New Zealanders are grappling with their financial situation – a 17% increase compared to February 2021 and the highest level since the survey began.

Out of those surveyed, 51% said they were “starting to sink, or treading water” and a further 3.5% were “sinking badly.”

Women, Māori, and Pacific Peoples were found to be hit the hardest by financial pressures, with 61% of women saying they were in a difficult position financially (compared to 48% of men) and 60% of Māori and 58% of Pasifika were also struggling.

Tom Hartmann, Sorted personal finance lead, said it was concerning that so many Kiwi were feeling the pressures of cost increases.

“We have now tipped into more than half the population feeling squeezed financially,” Hartmann said. “This significantly reduces people’s ability to grow their money for tomorrow, which has long-term consequences for their future financial wellbeing.”

As a result, the respondents who were struggling with money have reported experiencing more financial stress.

Jo Gamble, Retirement Commission research lead, said financial stress impacts relationships with more women, Māori, and Pasifika hiding or concealing their financial situation from family or friends than the average New Zealander.

“Sixty per cent of the average population have experienced financial stress within the last year, however this was significantly higher for 18–35-year-olds at 76%, Māori at 76% and 78% of Pasifika,” Gamble said.

“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.

She said it was important for New Zealanders to seek help if they were struggling, to make managing money easier, and in turn, benefit their mental wellbeing.

New Zealander’s financial behaviour in budgeting, saving, tackling debt, and KiwiSaver, and retirement were also part of the study. These four key areas link to Sorted’s key money management pillars. Sorted is a personal finance site run by the Retirement Commission.

Findings revealed 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,” Hartmann said.

“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.”

As part of Sorted Money Month, the Retirement Commission has been encouraging people to hit pause and take a moment to consider their money situation, and seek help wherever they need it, such as by using the tools on Sorted, joining a money event, or seeking out help from financial mentors or advisers.

“Even when times are tough, small changes can make an outsized difference and help you stay on track,” Hartmann said.

This article was written by Mina Martin and first appeared in NZ Adviser


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