One in four Kiwis are worried about their debt, with one in 10 saying they are not confident they can make the necessary repayments over the next year.
These new figures have been released by the Commission for Financial Capability (CFFC) just in time for Sorted Money Week, which kicks off tomorrow with a focus on the word we try avoid at all costs - debt.
Whether it's helping make ends meet, keeping you awake at night or just plain ugly, it's time to ask "what does debt do for you"?
CFFC retirement commissioner Diane Maxwell said the ability to borrow money means we can buy items before we can even afford them, unlike our grandparents who would have saved and paid cash.
"The benefit of saving is that it gives you time to decide how badly you want or need it, but with credit you can make a spur of the moment decision to buy something. The thrill of walking into a shop and walking out with your heart's desire is to hard to ignore."
Maxwell said the irony with debt is people with the least money, pay the most to borrow because they pose the biggest risk.
"So debt is more expensive for those who can least afford it."
Money Week is the annual opportunity to take a good hard look at our finances and make plans to get ahead.
There will be a number of events held around the country next week, including a Pacific women and money fono and a pop-up restaurant challenge that will see teams compete to dish up a three-course feast for a family of 10 for under $100.
ASB is also getting involved by offering kids an opportunity to learn how to escape debt with a new race-against-time game.
Year 7 and 8 students from 10 Auckland intermediate schools, including Northcote Intermediate, Royal Oak Intermediate and De La Salle College, will hunt for clues, solve maths puzzles and use their money skills to help "grandma" escape debt.
The students will apply knowledge learned from ASB's GetWise financial literacy programme - delivered free to primary and intermediate students across New Zealand.
A scenario teams will come up against in the game, which will take place in a room designed to look like grandma's bach, is choosing whether to spend hard-earned money from their summer job on a party with friends or to enrol in an online business course to help grandma set up her new business.
The team that escapes debt the fastest will scoop $1000 prize money for their school.
ASB GetWise relationship manager Julian Wilson said by gamifying financial literacy, students not only have fun but also learn about debt in a way that isn't a "boring lecture".
"We feel pretty stoked to be bringing something quite unique and fun and engaging to help teach our future generations about how to handle debt.
"Learning these things at an early age has an impact on you as an adult. Inevitably [kids] are going to face [debt] when they grow up and its better they have thought about it and come up with a strategy about how to deal with it now than to be blindsided by it at the age of 18 when suddenly they get offered the opportunity to borrow money."
Wilson said one of the most common questions students ask during GetWise workshops was "If I borrow $1million and then die, do I have to pay it back?"
"It's so important to get across that borrowing is a responsibility and they need to own that responsibility and be aware of the impact of it," he said.
Wilson believed Money Week was a great opportunity to get the whole country involved in what is a major topic.
A series of videos made in by CFFC in conjunction with the Reserve Bank will also be released next week, featuring well-known Kiwis talking debt, such as Peter Hillary (son of the late Sir Edmund Hillary) and Governor General Dame Patsy Reddy.
Money Week is set to take place between August 14 and 20. Find out more here.