Each decade brings with it a new way to get into debt without thinking too much.
Consumer debt has been a growing problem since the advent of hire purchase in the 1970s.
In the 1980s it was the credit card.
Other major leaps forward (or backward) include revolving credit store cards such as Q Card, easy mortgage top ups to refinance the debt, debt-consolidation loans and, most recently, buy-now pay-later systems.
Reserve Bank of New Zealand tables tracking consumer debt from March 1999 to March 2019 show it ballooned from $6.679 billion to $16.905b with very few blips along the way, other than in the lead up to the global financial crisis.
When I spoke to Rob Collins, general manager at NZCU credit union, he had just returned from an Australasian banking innovation conference. Social agencies presenting at the conference impressed on the industry how the growth of debt was changing.
Millennials and younger generations, in particular, are spending quite differently to their parents, says Collins. The big three, when it came to adding debt at a scary rate, were Uber Eats, online gaming and "buy now, pay later".
I would add meal-kit delivery services such as HelloFresh, Woop and others to that.
The day Collins returned to Auckland he was perusing incoming loan applications and found one where a borrower's bank statements showed spending of $2500 on Uber Eats over three months. There was also $1700 of online gaming spend. Despite earning $100,000 per year the customer was $30,000 in debt.
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Eating takeaways is part of life and delivery isn't new. Uber Eats is simply a far easier way to do it. Sometimes it involves eating at restaurant prices.
The issue is there is only so much in the pot to spend each month and with Uber Eats and meal kit suppliers the overall food bill can balloon out of control.
With gaming, games such as Storm8 figure all too regularly show up in new client's bank statements, says Collins.
They draw the user into an addictive online world where they can make in-app purchases.
I know of players who have spent hundreds of dollars on V-bucks to use in the game Fortnite.
The other big issue that Collins highlights is what I call the "Afterpay effect" - a new style of borrowing where you get the goods now and pay over four instalments. Most large and a lot of small retailers offer this.
It's interest-free, but the penalties add up quickly if you miss one payment or multiple payments.
The crux, says Collins, is customers of Afterpay, PartPay, Oxipay and Laybuy don't see it as borrowing when they use these services to buy now. They see it as just another way to pay.
In Afterpay's 2018 annual report merchant fees represented approximately 75.6 per cent of the company's income for the 12-month period ending June 30. The remaining 24.4 per cent principally comprised of late fees charged to customers who do not make their instalment payments on time.
Because Afterpay is not technically borrowing it doesn't come under the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act and is therefore not regulated.
It does have to be in the Financial Service Providers Register, join a dispute resolution service and comply with the Fair Trading Act.
The company has become upset of late with suggestions that it should be regulated under the CCCFA. Afterpay threatened in a submission to parliament that it would pull out of New Zealand if that happened. Yet like credit, it's a way to buy what you can't afford currently.
There are various forms of buy now pay later that are leading consumers into too much debt too fast says Susan Taylor, chief executive of Financial Services Complaints Limited. She is also concerned about mobile lenders and truck shops that dangle the carrot of a flash new TV or another desirable item in front of people with low payments, but in the end, they're paying way over the odds.