13 Aug 2018

Earning $150k and still falling behind

From Nine To Noon, 9:10 am on 13 August 2018

A study shows a growing number of high earning families are struggling to pay the bills.

no caption

Photo: 123rf

Research from the Commission for Financial Capability shows a quarter of those they spoke to were from families with incomes between $100,000 and $150,000, and who also had high-interest loans from third-tier lenders, like pawnbrokers or mobile lending trucks.

The head of the commission, Diane Maxwell, who is also the Retirement Commissioner, told Nine to Noon families in the higher income bracket were likely to borrow more for their household items and travel.

She said while the cost of owning a home in places like Auckland has gone up, these families debt was due to spending.

Previous generations were better at long-term saving, she said.

"For the first year, your house was pretty sparse because you just got into your own home. You didn't have a lot, people didn't have a fridge for one to two years, and they didn't have a car. If you buy a new house today, you can go into a place and look at a couch and get interest free credit and go home with the couch."

Ms Maxwell said people often felt what she called subjective poverty - feeling the need to compete with their neighbours for household goods.

"It's related to status anxiety. We look at the neighbour, and the neighbour's done renovations, they're driving a [BMW] and they're going to Fiji again.

"Sometimes you don't know whose swimming till the tide goes out because people are living in debt, and you think ... well how can they do that? So I'm going to do that too."

The commission interviewed 15,000 New Zealanders about their financial well-being.