One in three people strongly believe they deserve to have money to spend because they work hard, yet many are worried about their debt.

The Commission for Financial Capability has surveyed more than 1000 people about their attitudes towards debt for Money Week which starts today.

New Zealanders collectively had $237.79 billion in housing debt and $15.39 billion in personal consumer debt as of June - a record level.

But it appears many are worried about it with half of the people surveyed disagreeing with the statement "I have debt but I don't really think about it that much."


There was also a sense of entitlement when it comes to money with one in three agreeing with the statement: "I work hard so I deserve to have money to spend when I need it."

Retirement Commissioner Diane Maxwell is worried about how easy it is for people to get into debt. Photo/Supplied
Retirement Commissioner Diane Maxwell is worried about how easy it is for people to get into debt. Photo/Supplied

Retirement Commissioner Diane Maxwell believes that view is being influenced by what people see around them.

"It's partly what we see around us, on TV, and on social media.

"They create a sense that people are on holiday, out for dinner, driving new cars, which makes us think that somehow everyone else has 'more'.

"We see their holiday photos but we don't see their credit card bill so our view is one-sided."

Maxwell says credit was far more readily available today - a situation that concerned her.

"Credit is far more readily available today than it was for our grandparents, which means we can make rash instant decisions.

"Saving for something gives you a cooling-off period to work out how badly you want it. The time lag between wanting and getting something has got much shorter. If I want to watch a movie I don't drive to a shop to get it, I just rent it online, download it within two minutes and watch it."


The research also questioned people about whether they would lend money to, or borrow from friends and family.

Of those surveyed 80 per cent said they would lend money with 14 per cent prepared to lend up to $100, a further 32 per cent happy to lend between $100 and $1000 and 28 per cent between $1000 and $5000.

Nearly one in 10 (9 per cent) would lend $50k or more.

On the reverse, 62 per cent said they would borrow money from friends and family.

Maxwell said many people told the commission that lending and borrowing could ruin relationships and so they would only deal with small amounts for a short time and as a last resort.

"People also care how the money is going to be spent. They are happy to help family out, if they can, to avoid high interest rates, buy a house or household essentials or if they are sick."

Maxwell said not all debt was equal.

"Some debt is an investment in yourself, your career or future, or your health and wellbeing. Usually that debt pays off in the long-term," she said.

"Then there's debt that drags you down because it's spur of the moment, high interest, and takes a long time to climb out of.

"For some families there is enough money coming in to the household but debt repayments are keeping them poor."

Maxwell said debt was sucking millions of dollars out of communities via fees, interest and penalties.

"A big concern is how quickly you can get your hands on credit, and how little people understand about how much they will have paid at the end."

Money Week is an annual event aimed at raising people's knowledge and capability around money.

To find out more about what's on for Money Week go to