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Mortgage costs spike, groceries big worry, Kiwis prep for a tough year – Canstar

Canstar today releases its third nationwide Consumer Pulse survey, revealing Kiwis’ hopes, dreams and worries about their finances.

The survey covers:

  • Financial Pain Points – money worries and debt levels
  • Our Piggy Banks – savings habits and goals
  • Property Market Prospects – state of the nation on housing

Highlights include:

  • 70% of Kiwis say there’s been no relief from cost-of-living pressures; nearly half don’t expect any let-up in the year ahead. Women are more pessimistic than men
  • Of the 25% who felt relief, most say it’s due to personal cost cutting; 40% also earned a higher income
  • Grocery prices are our greatest financial worry: 28% of Kiwis place pain at the check-out ahead of rent and mortgage costs
  • Half of homeowners have cut back on non-essential spending such as eating out, entertainment and fashion. Another 20% are going even further, cutting back on essential items, like groceries, electricity and phone usage
  • The average Kiwi expects to need just over $470,000 for retirement, but less than a third (29%) feel they are on track to achieve their goal
  • Over a third of homeowners who re-fixed their mortgages recently faced a 30% – 50% increase in mortgage repayments. Another 9% say their repayments went up by over 50%

The survey gives extraordinary insights into the everyday lives of Kiwis around the country, including revealing how we’ve coped in the year past, and how we feel about the year ahead.

Bruce Pitchers, Canstar New Zealand Content & Editorial Manager, says the report reflects the intense pressures Kiwi households are under, and their preparations for a tough year ahead.

“Canstar’s been running the Consumer Pulse surveys for three years now, and in that time we’ve tracked notable changes in our financial behaviours and pressures. We followed changes in Kiwis’ attitudes through the recent cheap-money era to the intense financial squeeze on households today.

“This year, the report shows the stark reality of our financial pressures, but also reveals how resilient we are, and how proactive we’ve been with our budgeting. It also shows how, in times of financial stress, women tend to be more worried, and more cautious than men.

“These insights, and the many more contained within Consumer Pulse show how we, as a nation, respond to changing economic times. We’re very proud to release this today.”

The report shows that many are still struggling to afford the basics on the back of rising grocery costs and massive mortgage repayments. Notably, Kiwis are rising to the challenge of reorganising their household budgets, cutting out extras such as entertainment and dining out, in order to balance the books.

There are several themes apparent in the survey, including the particular pressures coming to bear on those in their 30s and 40s, who are likely to be starting families and buying first homes – all within the context of rising household costs and mortgage servicing requirements.

The difference in attitudes between men and women is stark, with men generally more bullish about their finances and house values, while women feel more pressure, are more worried, and more likely to change their behaviour to cut costs.

The report is designed to show longitudinal trends, collating responses from several thousand New Zealand adults (18+) who participate in Canstar surveys over a period of time. Nearly 30,000 have participated in the surveys since February 2021, with nearly 18,000 between October 2022 and January 2024.


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