Money 'stressful' and 'overwhelming'

11:03, Apr 27 2013

Money is stressing out and overwhelming a large portion of the population, and a dismal 43 per cent of us feel "uncomfortable" when thinking too much about our long-term financial future.

Research by financial research agency Canstar, which polls the public on their feelings towards their banks, has found in its latest survey that 34 in every 100 think dealing with money is stressful and overwhelming.

It also found that 44 per cent of people admit they live payday to payday.

"Dealing with money in the here-and-now overwhelms a third of New Zealanders, but thinking about their long-term financial future made our survey respondents feel even more uncomfortable," Derek Bonnar, Canstar's New Zealand general manager, said.

The survey also found that ANZ, which was this week named as New Zealand's best managed bank by The Asian Banker magazine, ranked lowest or joint lowest on every one of the eight things Canstar asked about: Overall satisfaction, branch service, call centre service, internet banking, product range, problem-handling, efficiency in handling inquiries, and friendliness.

TSB scored most highly for overall satisfaction (five out of five), with ASB, Kiwibank, BNZ, and the Co-operative Bank scoring four, and ANZ and Westpac scoring three.


The friendliest banks were TSB and the Coop.

The survey polled 2240 people. The findings showed a large portion of the population lacked a sense of control over their money lives, said Hamish Cowan, a financial fitness trainer with the EnableMe business.

But Cowan said many people have misconceptions about how bad their situation is, and underestimate their ability to improve their lot relatively rapidly.

"It's not really about what you earn, or how old you are, or whether you are in a relationship or not, it is about trying to get that better future by getting transparency and control," he said.

Some people like to hire financial trainers like EnableMe in just the same way that people wanting to get fit join a gym or hire a nutritionist, Cowan said.

But even those who don't do that can only make their long-term financial futures better by working out what they are spending and where, and then trimming their spending in unnecessary areas with budgeting.

Setting short, medium and long-term goals, and a plan to get to them is important, he said.

The good news is almost two-thirds of people do strive to live to a budget, though Cowan said many people EnableMe saw, who thought they were managing their money well, could be doing a lot better, especially when it came to paying down mortgages faster.

There were some regional variations in feelings of financial desperation. Half of all survey respondents from the Waikato said they felt uncomfortable when thinking too hard about their financial future, compared with 39 per cent in Wellington, 41 per cent in Otago, 42 per cent in Canterbury and 43 per cent in Auckland.

Canstar identified higher levels of discomfort among younger people early into the cycle of accumulating wealth, though 40 per cent of those aged 45 or over admitted nervousness about their prospects.

The money stress survey findings, and other insights into Kiwi money lives was released alongside a survey of customer satisfaction with banks.