Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Kiwis get D- for Saving, Media gets A+ for laziness

According to this story on Stuff, which was also broadcast on one or other of the TV news shows tonight, we're not saving enough for retirement. Two comments on this:

Firstly, the story is sourced from a survey done by Sovereign, an insurance and investment company which sells, among other things, retirement schemes. So what we have here is a company scolding consumers for not being interested in its product. I don't know about you, but I'm wondering why the hell this is regarded as news rather than advertising, and whether we'll soon be seeing stories like

"Kiwis get D- for Coke-buying - according to the owner of a local supermarket, New Zealanders aren't buying enough Coca-Cola..."

Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? But this is what happens when lazy journalists reproduce corporate press releases verbatim rather than doing their job.

Secondly, on the subject of saving for retirement: Yes, we all know its important, and yes, we all know that we can't rely on the government. Yet despite this, there's a relatively low uptake even amongst the better-off demographic that Sovereign polled. I suspect this is because even those who are comfortable (I wouldn't call a household income of NZ$50,000 pa "rich", though its certainly better than many make) can't really afford to stash money away at the rates investment advisors reccommend, while simultaneously pursuing all those other components of Kiwi life (children, mortgage) and paying for all those expenses which the government has decided to drop in our laps over the past 20 years (health care, children's education). And at the lower end of the socioeconomic scale, saving for the future simply isn't an option when you're struggling to get by today. What this means is that government is going to continue to have a role, whether it likes it or not, unless it wants to deal with the bad PR of the elderly spending their twilight years in poverty and destitution.

And as for those of us who are still relatively young, I guess its going to be "pay off your student loan, or save for your retirement - pick one". Sorry, Sovereign, but a government decision 11 years ago has shitcanned your prime customer demographic for the next twenty years...