COMMENT:

The language helped validate borrowing for everything from Friday-night takeaways to expensive overseas trips that the borrower can't afford.

"Better loans" one high-interest lender proclaimed in a recent advertisement, although better than what wasn't spelled out. "Your lifestyle your rules", another said. "A brighter way to borrow". All from lenders charging eye-watering interest rates.

One lender which charges a totally over the top 547.5 per cent per annum for its loans proclaimed it had: "Reinvented credit to make it more honest". Another advertised "Fast, Friendly, Ethical" instant loans even though its borrowers pay up to 42 per cent interest per annum.

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A peer-to-peer lender's marketing includes the words: "Where Kiwis help Kiwis". True, but that's the poor helping the rich to get richer.

Some of the language used to peddle high-interest loans could almost be described as cynical, says Peter Cordtz, acting Retirement Commissioner.

Sommer Kapitan, senior lecturer and consumer behaviour expert at AUT University, points out that this type of language is normal in a competitive marketplace. It's the lender's job to get consumers to purchase credit and the language is one of their tools.

"But it does disregard the mental state most consumers are in when they turn to such high-interest, high LTV [loan to value] ratio solutions," she says.

These appealing statements from the lenders help push the "buy now" trigger in our brains.

Do you really want to be manipulated by lenders into pushing that button and borrowing, instead of saving and be kept on the debt treadmill instead of really getting ahead?

If you want to get unhooked from the buy-now, pay-later narrative, then try reprogramming your brain with some of the tried-and-tested maxims, says Rob Collins, general manager at credit union NZCU Auckland.

"Things our parents taught us ... if you can't pay cash don't buy it, don't put it on the never-never, just because so-and-so has it doesn't mean you have to have it."

While making the purchase feels psychologically good, says Kapitan, the strings attached include guilt and worry.

"Getting money now always feels like a win. The bird in the hand, right? But when you have to pay it back, it is literally experienced as a loss and a punishment in the brain. That means a purchase with a loan will typically always feel less good than a purchase when you've saved toward a goal."

It can also be destructive in relationships - someone looking for a long-term partner may be turned off by an otherwise attractive match if that person has "see money and spend it" tendencies.

For most people debt is stressful, especially when it spirals out of hand.

"There is real satisfaction in being in control of your own wellbeing, whether it be physical, mental or financial," says Collins. All three inter-relate. "How many people talk about sleepless nights worrying about money, or the lack of it to meet all the bills?"

Temptations are so much greater these days but resistance has its own rewards, says Collins. Having savings instead of debt gives more choices in life.

If you save towards a goal, says Kapitan, your positive feelings get a boost with each time you put more into your savings.

"This is an improving sequence for both your finances and your actual mental wellbeing. When you finally get to make the purchase, there's no catch. You just feel plain good. It is only a win, a gain."