New research reveals more than half of New Zealanders are struggling with money

New research shows that 55% of New Zealanders are struggling with their financial situation – up 17% compared to February 2021 and the highest level since surveying began.

Out of those surveyed, 51% say they are ‘starting to sink, or treading water’ and a further 3.5% are ‘sinking badly’.

Since February 2021, Te Ara Ahunga Ora Retirement Commission has commissioned TRA to survey 4000 people annually, gathering insights on how people are feeling about money and how they are coping.

The latest findings have revealed that women, Māori and Pacific Peoples are being hit the hardest, with 61% of women saying they are in a difficult position financially (compared to 48% of men) and 60% of Māori and 58% of Pasifika are also struggling.

Sorted Personal Finance Lead Tom Hartmann says it’s concerning so many Kiwi are feeling the pressures of cost increases.

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

Those people in the survey who are struggling with money have reported experiencing more financial stress as a result.

Te Ara Ahunga Ora Research Lead Dr Jo Gamble says financial stress impacts relationships with more women, Māori and Pasifika hiding or concealing their financial situation from their family or friends than the average New Zealander.

“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%, Māori at 76% and 78% of Pasifika,” she says.

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

“It’s important for New Zealanders to reach out for help if they are struggling, as with support and small changes it can be easier to manage money, which benefits your mental wellbeing.”

This research also looked at New Zealander’s financial behaviour in four key areas; budgeting, saving, tackling debt, and KiwiSaver and retirement, which link to Sorted’s key money management pillars.

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,” says Hartmann.

“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, we’ve been encouraging people to hit pause, and take a moment to look at their money situation, and seek out help where they need it. This might be 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.”


Notes to editors

About Sorted

Sorted is a free service run by Te Ara Ahunga Ora Retirement Commission, the government-funded, independent agency dedicated to helping New Zealanders get ahead financially.

As New Zealand’s trusted personal finance site, Sorted has the information needed to tackle debt, plan and budget, save and invest, dial up your KiwiSaver, plan for retirement, protect what's important, and manage a mortgage. Providing tools, guides and blogs, Sorted can help no matter where you are at when it comes to money.


About Te Ara Ahunga Ora Retirement Commission

Te Ara Ahunga Ora Retirement Commission aims to help New Zealanders to retire with confidence. Retiring with confidence means New Zealanders feel secure they’ll have resources to live and the know-how to make ends meet.

We focus on three areas: Retirement Income Policies, Retirement Villages and Financial Capability.

Te Ara Ahunga Ora runs Sorted, Sorted at Work, Sorted in Communities and Te whai hua – kia ora, Sorted in Schools.

About Sorted Money Month

Sorted Money Month runs from 1–31 August. This year's theme “Pause: Get sorted” encourages Kiwis to take the time to take charge of their money and reach out and get information and support.

In addition to the webinars and live events, you can jump onto and find information based on what money stage you are at. A wide range of financial subjects are covered including Investing & Saving, Budgeting, Debt & Loans, KiwiSaver, and Retirement Planning.

Media contacts

For more information, or to arrange any interviews contact:

Elizabeth O’Halloran – Communications Lead

Te Ara Ahunga Ora Retirement Commission
Mob: +64 21 749 467