Each week the New Zealand Herald and Newstalk ZB's Cooking The Books podcast tackles a different money problem. Today, it's where to start if you're in debt. Hosted by Frances Cook.

If you're in debt up to your neck, it's tempting to close your eyes and pretend it isn't happening. But just because that's a totally natural response, doesn't mean you can give in to it.

The longer you ignore debt the worse it will get, and eventually, the people who loaned you the money aren't going to let you ignore it anymore.

It's a horrible situation to be in, and yet, I understand how people get there.

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There's an entire industry dedicated to getting you to spend money you don't have.

In the past six months we've even seen a new industry crop up, with four companies now offering buy now pay later, for when you're shopping online. The idea is that you see something you like, buy it, and then pay for it over several weeks.

The thing is, if you can't afford that now, you may not be able to afford that when the payments come around either. And if you can't pay, you get stung with late payment charges of around $10.

That might not sound like a big fee, but people use these part pay services for little purchases. So if you've spent $50, and get a fee of $10, that's 20 per cent. That's an absolute rip off.

But they're not the worst. Short term lenders, like pay day lenders, often charge more than 50 per cent a year. Some will charge 1 per cent per day. That's predatory.

There's been a spike in complaints about short term lenders, particularly whether it's good enough that people are getting loans through online or text message applications. So now the Commerce Commission is investigating.

All well and good, but what about if you've already got yourself into a sticky situation? Where do you start, and how do you stop yourself panicking?

I gave the Commission for Financial Capability's personal finance editor Tom Hartmann a call. We talked about how to recognise when your debt is going bad, the different types of lenders, and the best strategy for getting out of debt.

For the interview, listen to the podcast.

If you have a question about this episode, or something you'd like me to cover in the future, come and talk to me about it. I'm on Facebook here, and Twitter here.

If you want to make sure you never miss an episode, subscribe to the podcast on the Apple podcasts app, or I Heart Radio.