Stress over money hits two-year low

Kiwis' money worries are at the lowest level in two years and are expected to continue improving this year, according to a report by a credit agency.

Dun & Bradstreet's Consumer Financial Stress Index hit -5.6 points in March, down from 7.5 points the same time last year.

Anything below zero shows lower financial stress.

Dennis Martin, managing director of Dun & Bradstreet said New Zealand's healthy economic conditions were behind the improvement.

"With good news on the economy continuing to circulate during the first quarter of the year we're seeing consumer optimism consolidate and financial stress ease.

"Falling unemployment and confidence in jobs growth are supporting consumers' willingness and ability to spend, while the booming property and share markets are lifting household wealth."

Martin said while rising interest interest rates would temper borrowing and spending he expected the healthy job market and strong economy to continue driving financial stress levels lower.

"While consumers appear set to face additional interest rate increases this year, which will place some strain on their debt repayments, we forecast that stress levels will continue to ease through to the middle of this year."

The credit rating agency index also found New Zealand was doing better than Australia.

New Zealand's financial stress index was 20 points below the Australian index which hit 18.6 points in March.

Martin said although Australia's economic fundamentals remained sound its rising level of unemployment was being reflected in the financial stress index.

- By Tamsyn Parker of the New Zealand Herald

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