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Research shows financial stress impacts mental wellbeing


Financial worry is impacting the lives of the majority of New Zealanders in a variety of ways, with women and young adults suffering the most.

Research by the Commission for Financial Capability (CFFC) released to support Mental Health Awareness Week shows that 69% of New Zealanders are concerned about money, with that figure rising to 74% of women and 82% of those aged 18-34.

This concern manifests in a variety of ways, with 49% of people feeling stressed, 34% missing out on social activities, 31% not accessing health services when they might have otherwise, and 28% making unhealthy eating choices. Other impacts include problems with personal relationships, feeling embarrassed about their finances, concealing their financial situation from family and friends, not doing exercise and feeling ill or unwell. Ten per cent of those aged 18-34 take regular days off work due to money worries.

Women responded to all categories in higher numbers than men, and those in the younger age group were also the most affected by each impact. Of women, 55% felt stressed by money concerns compared with 42% of men; 59% of the younger age group felt stressed compared to 40% of those aged 55-64 and 21% of those 65+.

Māori and Pasifika respondents were also particularly affected – 83% of Māori and 82% of Pasifika were concerned about money compared to 67% of NZ Europeans. Among Māori, 57% suffered stress, 40% made unhealthy eating choices and 38% did not access health services due to money concerns.

Tom Hartmann, Managing Editor of the Sorted website at CFFC, said that the line between financial and mental wellbeing was not hard to draw, with anxiety levels typically easing when people sort their money situations. The number of categories ticked by respondents in the survey showed the varied ways that financial worries affected people’s day-to-day lives, including impacting their mental wellbeing.

“Squeezed incomes mean that many earning groups are feeling the pinch, but it’s also true that many of us could be living a whole lot better on the same money,” he said. “Changing borrowing habits and a small buffer of savings can lift tensions in our personal lives and improve our outlook in meaningful and healthy ways.”

Talking about money with friends and family can seem like a hurdle, but is the first step toward improved financial wellbeing.

“As with most problems, the best way to start dealing with a concern is to share it; lighten the load and then set goals and make a plan to work toward them together.”

Sorted’s new website NowWeAreTalking.org.nz has tips for how to start tricky money conversations, and links to all of Sorted’s guides and tools to help take control of your finances.


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