Steps to improve financial wellbeing

Set a savings goal

Saving money is a way to pay yourself. Little and often each payday is a good way to build a savings habit. Then you can think about a goal like an emergency fund, a holiday, or a new home. 

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How saving can help your financial wellbeing

Saving means spending less than you earn and setting that extra money aside for your future needs or wants.

Money worries can cause issues like stress, sleeping problems, or impulsive spending. Saving a cash cushion can help you feel more secure, knowing you have money to cover unexpected expenses like car repairs, a doctor’s appointment, or contributing to a loved one’s funeral. 

Saving for something special means you can focus on things you genuinely want, whether it’s a treat or a big goal like a holiday, car, or the bond or deposit on a new home. This can help you feel motivated and excited about your future.

What is financial wellbeing?

Financial wellbeing is a measure of how comfortably you can meet your current commitments and whether you can continue to do this into the future.

About a quarter of Kiwis have no savings, according to our financial wellbeing research. This can make it harder to pay unexpected expenses and can add to any money worries. You don’t have to save a lot – it’s more about getting into the habit of saving. 

Tip 1. Start small with micro-savings

Saving five  dollars a week, every week, is enough to start building up your cash cushion. You’ll likely find you adjust your spending to match what’s left over.

Money makes money, so your savings will earn interest. This is a handy top-up, especially when interest rates are higher. Adding five dollars a week is enough to earn bonus interest in some savings accounts.

Tip 2. On payday, pay yourself first

On the day your pay comes in, pop a small amount into a separate savings account. If you wait to move it into your savings, you may find you’ve spent it on something you later realise you don’t want or need.

Tip 3. Set and forget a saving amount

Habits take time to bed in, so do yourself a favour and make saving automatic. It helps to set up a weekly, fortnightly or monthly payment from your everyday account to your savings account.

How to do this in your account

To set up regular savings payments, go to Transfer in ANZ Internet Banking or the ANZ goMoney mobile app:

  1. Select which accounts to move money from and to
  2. Choose an amount to save, e.g. five dollars
  3. Choose a date, e.g. your payday or the day after payday
  4. Choose Repeat, e.g. weekly, fortnightly or monthly.

How to boost your savings

Once you’re in the habit of saving, it’s good to set a savings goal. On average, people with savings goals save two times faster than those without. 

Start with an emergency fund

We’ve all been caught out by an unexpected expense, but an emergency savings fund can cushion the blow. Keep up the habit you started with putting money straight into a separate account each payday – paying yourself first. 

Top it up when you can. Here’s how you might free up money for your savings:

  • Decide to spend less on something you enjoy, but don’t need – try it out for a month or two
  • Sell items you no longer use.

Some people set an emergency fund goal of four weeks’ pay. Others aim for a round figure like $1,000 or $2,000. 

Treats and impulse buys

Saving money should be fun as well as useful. Try a separate savings account for treats. To avoid dipping into it for impulse buys, make it for specific things you really enjoy.

If you make unplanned purchases when bored, sad or angry, think of one thing that makes you feel better without spending. Next time you feel the urge to splurge, do that one thing instead. For an extra dopamine hit, pop the money you ‘saved’ into your savings account.

Set a SMART goal

A good savings strategy sets out your plan for how you’ll save, how much you want to save, and what exactly you’re saving for. 

A goal gives you a clear target to focus on and motivation to succeed. Try using the SMART goal method, which stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable 
  • Realistic 
  • Time limited.


It’s easier to reach your goal if you know exactly what it is. For example, ‘a holiday’ isn’t specific but ‘a week surfing in Raglan’ is more specific. Then fill in more details, e.g. equipment hire, accommodation, how you’ll get there and back.


Put a number on it – how much money do you need? Set a defined dollar target so you can measure your progress and see the finish line.


Stay motivated with a realistic goal. It should be a challenge, but still doable. Can you carve out enough money each payday to put towards your goal? If not, what needs to change – maybe reduce your spending, change your goal, or break it into smaller steps.


This is your ‘why’. What’s the reason for this goal? For example, you may want to surf in Raglan for your mental wellbeing, to boost your board skills, or to spend time with a good friend.

Time limited

Give yourself a deadline to succeed. This puts a bit of healthy pressure on you to work towards your goal. Using the surfing holiday as an example, you might set a four-month deadline to save for accommodation, then save for fuel and holiday spending.

Crunch the numbers

Let our Savings Calculator do the work for you. You know what you’re saving for. Now calculate roughly how much to save regularly to reach your goal amount. 

Regularly remind yourself of your goal

If you see it, you can save for it. Try putting a reminder of your goal where you’ll see it every day, e.g.:

  • Poster on the fridge
  • Customise your savings account in goMoney or Internet Banking – add a photo and name it after your goal
  • Nudge yourself to resist impulse buys – if you usually pay with your phone, change the lock screen to a picture of your goal. If you pay by card, add a goal photo with an ANZ MyPhoto Visa Debit card.

Track progress to your goal

How you track your savings is up to you, e.g. a poster, checklist or tracking app. It may help to set yourself milestones along the way, e.g. each time your savings tick over from $99 to $100 or $999 to $1,000. 

However you choose to track progress, it pays to regularly check your bank accounts. You’ll get the satisfaction of seeing your plan come together. You’ll also be able to see any unexpected spending and work out how to get back on track.

Steps to financial wellbeing

Our financial wellbeing programme can help. Try one step or two, or work through the programme's six steps in any order.

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Related tools and content

Which saver personality type are you?

Take this nine-question quiz to find out if you’re a Spender, Striver or All-Rounder.

1. Download the Saver Personality Type Quiz (PDF 420KB).

2. Open the PDF in a desktop app, like Adobe, Javelin or Foxit (Note: if the PDF opens in your web browser, select ‘Open in desktop app’ to make sure the quiz can calculate your score correctly).

3. Complete the questions to find out your personality type.

Important information

This material is for information purposes only. Please talk to us if you need financial advice about your situation and goals or about our products and services. See our financial advice provider disclosure (PDF 39.9KB).

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