Economist Shamubeel Eaqub provides tips for getting out of debt

New figures this week have given insight into Kiwis' financial status as the cost of living and persistent interest rate increases continue mounting.

Credit monitoring bureau Centrix said about 430,000 New Zealanders were behind on at least one loan payment - a figure predicted to keep rising this year.

Shamubeel Eaqub, an economist from Sense Partners, said that was "a hell of a lot of people" - and those numbers were probably understated, too.

It's all come about, he said, from COVID-19, the extraordinary cost of living increases and most-recently Cyclone Gabrielle.

"We've had a whole bunch of stuff that's already happened and we've also got the interest rate increase to come over the next 12 months, as people refinance," Eaqub told Newshub Nation.

He admitted the financial trauma would cause "a lot of stress" amongst New Zealanders over the coming months.

"Previously, the people who would've thought they were doing OK are now doing it tough too because the supermarket shop is so expensive, because the petrol is so expensive, because the mortgage payments have gone up. There's just not much left at the end of the week anymore."

Although people often felt "shame and hopelessness" over their financial situation, he said there were many places willing to help.

"Quite often, if you ask for help early enough, you can get on top of it. If you go and talk to your bank, more often than not they will help you."

For Eaqub, budgeting services were also a vital tool for people who needed "real help".

He also urged people to consider financial mentors and debt service providers.

"There are lots of ways you can manage this, it's not without hope but, quite often, what we have seen is people with very small amounts of loans - because they feel so hopeless - they will shut the curtains so then the debt collector won't see them. They will get isolated and that festers and festers and festers.

"Ask for help because you know what? People want to help, there are lots of people out there who can help - so your lender is required by law to help you but, also, we have a lot of independent services who can help you."

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