The buoyant economy is being pointed to as the driver behind fewer people planning and saving for short term financial goals.

A survey on New Zealanders' financial behaviour has revealed more people are living within their means and saving for the longer term but the number of people saving for a short term goal has fallen.

The Commission for Financial Literacy and Retirement Income undertakes research every six months to determine how Kiwis are saving and spending their money.

Results from its May research show 56 per cent of people surveyed were earning more than what they spend - up from 50 per cent in November 2011.


Fewer people also said they were spending more than they earn - down from 22 per cent to 18 per cent compared to November last year.

It was also good news on the long term savings front with the percentage of people saving for the longer term increasing to 29 per cent from 23 per cent in May last year.

But the survey revealed fewer people had a plan to achieve a short-term financial goal and fewer people were saving for short-term reasons.

Just 50 per cent of those surveyed had a plan to achieve a short term goal compared to 56 per cent a year earlier and those saving for the short term fell from 59 per cent to 53 per cent.

Short-term refers to saving for the next six to 12 months.

The numbers saving for mid-term or longer term goals were consistent with previous research.

Read the latest Financial Behaviour Index here:

The commission is putting the drop down to confidence in the economy.


"Increasing confidence in New Zealand's economy may have lead some New Zealanders to become more relaxed about the short-term future," the report noted.

A spokesman for the commission said the index did not provide a direct answer as to why fewer people were saving for short term goals but suggested they were managing their money better or had a bit more 'slack' in their budget which meant they did not need to plan so tightly for the short term.

But Sorted spokesman Tom Hartmann said short-term goals were important because they helped to create momentum and an ongoing sense of achievement.

"If you're knocking off short-term goals, you're more likely to develop good habits and keep heading in the right direction to meet your longer-term aims."

Hartmann said many short-term goals were about "saving to spend" such as putting money aside for smaller purchases, such as a holiday.

"By having a goal and a plan to save $5,000 for a holiday (versus putting it on the credit card), you're not only having more control over your finances, you're also saving money through not having to pay back interest."

The survey interviewed 1005 Kiwis online during the month of May.