The overwhelming majority of young Kiwis do not believe in long-term financial planning and most give no thought to budgeting.
These were among the initial findings of a Massey University study into the spending habits and financial literacy of 300 New Zealanders, now aged 18-22, that will span the next 20 years.
Conducted with the assistance of Westpac, the study showed 77 per cent did not think it was important to make money plans more than four years ahead despite an increased national focus on retirement savings since KiwiSaver has been promoted.
Commerce Minister Craig Foss was not concerned about the lack of long-term planning among youth. Thinking about money in a time frame of four years still showed they understood the value of money in relation to time.
"If I understand that I need to save for something I want in a year's time, then that habit is entrenched."
Retirement Commissioner Diana Crossan said the short-term thinking among people aged 18-22 did not worry her.
"At that age, you tend to be thinking how am I going to get through my study? What kind of job will I have? Will I get to do my OE?"
Simon Howard, a 20-year-old student from Khandallah, said it was almost impossible at his age to predict what his future held.
"As a result, planning more than four years ahead financially is an extremely difficult and potentially futile endeavour."
Howard said his parents provided him with good lessons about money, including not spending all that you have "just because you have it", and that debt would impact his future financial situation. However, saving money could be difficult.
"If I have something I am saving towards, such as a trip back to the UK at the moment, then it is a lot easier to put some aside for that purpose. I also try and be savvy when I do spend my money. If I go to the cinema, I go on cheap Tuesdays, or if I go to a bar, I try and get the deals on offer."
The Massey survey found parents were the sole source of financial education for 66 per cent of respondents and most said they were good role models for money.
Massey University senior lecturer Claire Matthews said in some cases young people learnt what not to do by watching their parents' money mistakes.
"One concern with this very strong influence of parents is level of the parents' own financial literacy. If parents have low financial literacy their ability to help their children is limited."
Matthews said the young people surveyed were "in general" confident about their money management. "We found young people have strongly negative attitudes toward credit, particularly towards credit cards," Matthews said.
More than 90 per cent of the respondents said they recognised the importance of saving, and four out of five agreed it was better to use savings than credit to make purchases.
KiwiSaver helped to get more young people saving although it could be very hands off with options to leave the funds in a default scheme with little thought on behalf of the saver.
Foss said KiwiSaver was a great scheme to encourage building up savings but New Zealand's financial literacy still needed to be addressed.
- The Dominion Post
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