Kiwis remain poor savers

Wellingtonians are more likely to give up a night out if finances are tight, while Manawatu-Whanganui residents are more aware of where their savings stand.

That is according to a new survey on Kiwis' saving and spending habits by online bank RaboDirect.

The study confirmed a long-held belief that New Zealanders have little formal knowledge of money matters and that their savings records are patchy, despite their best intentions.

Almost three-quarters of the survey's respondents said they tried to put money aside, but only 23 per cent had a regular savings regime.

Other savers were irregular or opportunistic.

RaboDirect New Zealand general manager Mel Templeton said this was a concern for the economy.

While 28 per cent had made budget plans for the new year, generally New Zealanders were unable to take control of their money to meet their savings goals.

"Of more concern is that a third of those surveyed couldn't survive on their savings for more than two weeks without assistance," she said.

Almost half the 1367 respondents said they lived from payday to payday, usually with no spare cash at the end of the month.

Twenty-two per cent were penniless after covering their expenses, and another 22 per cent spent any leftover cash they had.

The biggest barriers to saving were unexpected expenses and general living costs, often in combination with a low income.

Only 16 per cent had a written budget and 41 per cent did not record their spending.

Attitudes towards money were different between the regions.

Aucklanders were more knowledgeable than the average New Zealander on managing their money, and nearly a third felt able to last more than six months without income or assistance.

By contrast, nearly half of Taranaki residents felt they could not survive longer than two weeks on savings alone.

However, 29 per cent of Taranaki residents were more likely to follow a written budget, well up on the national average of 16 per cent.

Cafe-centric Wellington was surprisingly frugal, with 47 per cent of respondents saying they would forgo spending on dining and entertainment to meet unexpected costs, compared with 37 per cent nationally.

In Canterbury and the West Coast, nearly a third of respondents were unable to recall where they spent their money or identify the areas they were overspending in.

Manawatu and Whanganui people topped the poll for savings awareness, with 80 per cent up to date with their savings status.

However, when it came to money's importance, Nelson, Marlborough and Tasman residents were particularly laid back. Only 37 per cent of that region's residents felt money was important to their image and success, compared with the national average of 47 per cent.

The survey found that few people - only 4 to 7 per cent - had formal education on managing their finances, with most people learning from life experience or those around them.

People's attitudes towards money changed with time, with older people being more financially aware but also recognising that it did not buy happiness.

Older people were more likely to forgo a holiday than their entertainment and less likely than young people to give up a night out to save money.

The survey coincided with RaboDirect's launch of, a website of budgeting tips.

Fairfax Media