New Zealanders pay their bills two weeks late, regardless of when they're due.
Accounting software firm Xero analysed 12 million invoices and discovered that, on average, they were paid a fortnight after they were due, whether the bill said it was due immediately or on the 20th of the month.
It follows a Dun & Bradstreet survey which showed 27 per cent of people said they would have difficulty paying their bills in the December quarter.
It also showed that 54 per cent of New Zealanders were worried about their financial situation, 5 per cent more than in the previous quarter. Two-thirds of people surveyed said they were less likely to spend on non-essentials over the next three months, and 63 per cent said they would avoid making big purchases in the December quarter.
The latest consumer price index data showed that everything from electricity to vegetables and airfares was becoming more expensive.
Auckland Property Investors' Association president David Whitburn said it seemed the number of tenants struggling to pay their rent on time was increasing.
Auckland Chamber of Commerce head Michael Barnett said cashflow was the biggest problem for small-to-medium businesses in particular.
"They don't have the banking facilities or bank support to accommodate it, so if people are slow paying it moves along the chain," he said.
Raewyn Fox, of the Federation of Budgeting Services, said people coming to her organisation were falling further behind in their debt and struggling to pay their bills.
She said the problem was getting worse. Clients' overall debt was down but the amount that was overdue was increasing. "There's slightly less debt but more is overdue." She said the service had seen its biggest increase in client numbers, from 32,500 two years ago to 55,000 this year. The average amount in arrears this year was $5072, compared with $4430 last year. Xero recommended that if companies wanted to be paid within a month, they should state a bill needed to be paid in 13 days.