Nearly half of Kiwis are worried they will not have enough income in retirement and close to one in three say debt is holding them back from saving more.

Research by financial ratings firm Canstar found women were more concerned about having enough in retirement than men and those in Generation X, born between 1965 and 1985, worried about it the most.

Of those surveyed 57 per cent of those in Generation X were worried, compared to just 32 per cent of those in the Baby Boomer generation - some of whom are already retired.

Half of Generation Yers were also worried they wouldn't have enough income in retirement.


Jose George, general manager of Canstar New Zealand said the reason Generation Xers were the most concerned could be because they are more likely to have amassed debt like a mortgage.

The survey found 63 per cent of those in Generation X owned a home or had a mortgage compared with 34 per cent of those in the younger Generation Y group.

But those in Generation Y were most likely to say debt was holding them back from saving more for their retirement.

Of those surveyed 41 per cent of Generation Yers would like to save more for retirement but already had too much debt.

That view was held by 38 per cent of those in Generation X while just 8 per cent of the Baby Boomers questioned felt debt was holding them back from saving more.

George said there was no straightforward answer as to whether people should pay down their debt first or save more for their retirement.

"It heavily depends on the personal circumstances of the person involved."

George said as a general guideline the first step was to focus on paying off high-interest debt first.

"Typically these would include items like personal loans, credit cards and car finance. This non-asset or wealth growing debt needs to be paid off as quickly as possible as all it is generating is more debt."

But he said a loan such as a mortgage could be an asset or wealth growing debt and deciding between paying it off and saving more into KiwiSaver was less straightforward.

"While as a general rule of thumb, paying off debt always seems a sensible approach, there are a number of factors unique to an individual that makes the decision potentially tricky."

"If someone is in the position where they can put extra money into either their mortgage or their KiwiSaver, it may be best to seek financial advice to make an informed decision."

The research also found less than half (42 per cent) of those surveyed keep track of their KiwiSaver.

George said this was concerning as how KiwiSaver was managed over the life of the investment could make a massive difference to the end result.

He recommended members track their investments at least six monthly or yearly and review their contribution rate and fund choice every time they faced a significant change in circumstances.