Tamsyn Parker 's Opinion

Money Editor for NZ Herald

Tamsyn Parker: How would you spend a $10k windfall?

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The number of people who would choose to spend a 10k windfall to go on holiday is at a five year high.
The number of people who would choose to spend a 10k windfall to go on holiday is at a five year high.

I've never talked to the other half about what we would do if I came into a $10,000 windfall but in my head I've often thought about buying a newer car.

I bought my current car, a Toyota Corolla, as a university student, and nearly 15 years later it's still going strong.

It was only four years old at the time so I was very lucky to get such a new car at a time in my life when most have to make do with old dungers.

Now it looks more like a student car, it would be nice to have a little upgrade - something a 10k windfall would certainly enable.

But unlike me it seems a lot of people would spend that kind of money on a holiday.

Research from the Westpac McDermott Miller confidence survey shows around 20 per cent of us would bank it, a further 20 per cent would use it to pay off debt and 20 per cent would use it to take a trip.

Around 15 per cent would spend in other ways and 5 per cent would use it to save in ways other than banking it.

The remaining group would spend it on other things most likely charity or helping family.

The number of people who would spend it on a holiday has hit a five year high while at the same time the number who would bank it or use it to pay off debt is at a five year low.

Westpac economist Felix Delbruck says that's likely to be because people are feeling financially confident at the moment.

"We've had low interest rates for a very long time and when the survey was being undertaken there were still good deals to be had."

Delbruck says low interest rates are consistent with stronger confidence.

"If people are not very confident about what their financial situation will be in a year's time more will use it to pay off debt."

That was certainly the case five years ago when New Zealand was starting to feel the bite from the global financial crisis.

At the moment New Zealand's economic strength and high dollar are driving more people towards cheap overseas travel and imported goods.

"People are still quite bargain conscious. Some of the spending we are seeing is where things are cheap - imports and travel."

People were also spending more on entertainment and eating out, Delbruck said, although that had fallen a bit in recent months.

Delbruck said he expected the holiday option to remain a popular choice while the exchange rate remained favourable.

The survey gives a good sense of people's ideal way to spend 10k but in reality taking a holiday or buying a car may not be the most sensible thing to do.

How should you spend a windfall?

Raewyn Fox, chief executive of the New Zealand Federation of Family Budgeting Services, says she would advise people to look at where their financial pressures are and try to make things easier for themselves in the longer term.

Paying off the credit card won't be anywhere near as much fun as going on a holiday but it will free up some cash for other spending.

As would paying off other debts.

Fox said it was a good idea to focus on high interest bearing debt first but also recommends paying off debts that could cause the most detriment to your family.

That could include any loans where the item might be repossessed if you fail to make payments on time.

Fox said $10,000 would be a very significant amount of money for some people especially if it came in the form of a windfall.

"It's way more significant than earning the same amount of money over months."

If all your debts are paid then the money could be used to pay for a holiday with cash raising the possibility of getting a discount and avoiding future credit card bills.

How would you spend a $10k windfall?

- NZ Herald

Tamsyn Parker

Money Editor for NZ Herald

Tamsyn Parker is the NZ Herald's Money Editor. A business journalist for ten years, she has worked in the UK and NZ for the New Zealand Herald, the National Business Review and a specialist publication on investment products for financial advisors. She is passionate about helping readers learn more about to make their money work for them.

Read more by Tamsyn Parker

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