Next week is Sorted Money Week, the series of money-themed events across the country held by private sector, government, schools and community organisations. It's our yearly opportunity to check in on our money situation.

This year is themed around debt, but we're taking a different approach. "What does debt do for you?" is the question we're asking everyone. Instead of it being about good debt, bad debt, dumb or smart - this time the test for whether it's worth taking on debt is our wellbeing.

So is your household debt dialling your wellbeing up or down? If we could, it would be healthy to ask our debt, with a bit of attitude, even, "What have you done for me lately?"

And since the roots of the word "wealth" are in wellbeing, the question is actually whether our debt is increasing our wealth - in the widest, most life-affirming sense of the word - or draining it. (You can guess which option we're promoting.)

There are some strong opinions about debt out there - as there should be - I'd guess just as many as there are about money.


I've always found it helpful to think of money and debt as tools - much like a hammer that we can choose to build or break with. (Again, you can guess which option is preferable!)

Debt at home can affect our relationships. The previous generation in my family had a particularly tragic time of it, with two sides of the whānau literally not speaking to each other for decades because one side owed the other part of an inheritance. Not until it was fully paid back years later with interest did tensions ease. Such a shame.

These days many people seem to be aware how lending to each other can influence the quality of our relationships.

Early surveys about debt for Sorted Money Week show that 20 per cent of us won't lend to friends or family full stop, and someone commented that "lending to family and friends always ends in tears". It can be tricky.

On the other hand, the story's not all bad.

Growing up, when there became not enough seatbelts to go around in our family, my dad borrowed funds from a friend for a large van. We dubbed it the "chicken coop", and it carted us all around for years.

When it came time to repay his friend, my father happily discovered that he had unknowingly contributed more than required to his pension overseas and was due a refund - the exact amount of the van!

So what does debt do for you? And what has it done for you lately? If it's dialling up your wellbeing, it's worth it - if not, time to take it down.

Have a great Money Week!