22 Sep 2020

New Zealand couples stressing about money - survey

5:24 pm on 22 September 2020

New Zealander's reluctance to speak openly about money is causing stress in domestic relationships, according to a survey.

Closeup of young couple reviewing their bank accounts with a digital tablet and calculator at home. Financial family concept.

Photo: 123rf

The Commission for Financial Capability survey showed a fifth of people are experiencing problems in their relationships because of financial concerns.

Those with little or no income were the most likely to experience issues, but having more money did not mean financial problems went away, as 21 percent of respondents with salaries between $150,000 and $200,000 reported tension.

The commission's personal finance lead, Tom Hartmann, said conflicts often occurred because speaking about money, and how different people related to it, was seen as a cultural taboo.

"In a relationship, no two people are the same, they were raised with money in different ways and no two people will earn the same salary, so those imbalances will make the conversation really hard."

Hartmann said having frank conversations about money without blame was essential not only for getting on the same page, but also reducing stress and improving one's well-being.

Young people, aged 18 to 34, were most likely to report money related stress in their relationships at 24 percent but this issue decreased with age, with 21 percent of 35 to 54-year-olds experiencing problems, 14 percent of those aged 55 to 65 and only 7 percent of people aged 65 and over.

Hartmann said as people got older a lot of income-related questions tended to be worked out.

The survey found that Māori (27 percent) and Pacific people (28 percent) had the highest rates of interpersonal issues among ethnic groups.

Hartmann said this was because these groups tended to have higher levels of debt and lower levels of income.