New Zealanders are being advised to spend carefully, budget and save as living costs continue to rise.
New data released earlier this month showed the Consumers Price Index rose by 7.2 per cent in the year to the September quarter - well above Reserve Bank and market expectations of 6.4 and 6.5 per cent.
There are also predictions the Official Cash Rate (OCR) could reach 5.25 per cent - from the current 3.5 per cent.
Economists warned borrowers are in for a tough time with interest rates likely to be hiked by more than previously planned and said there's increased risk of a "hard landing" – the Reserve Bank's tightening of monetary conditions bringing the economy to a screeching halt, leaving people unemployed.
Despite the headwinds, Finance Minister Grant Robertson said the Government doesn't intend to extend the temporary removal of fuel taxes, provide another iteration of the cost of living payment, or make income tax changes to support low-income earners.
Rotorua Budget Advisory Service manager Pakanui Tuhura said putting food on the table would be where cost of living increases could hit hardest.
"A the moment the main concern is about fuel costs and food costs," Tuhura told the Rotorua Daily Post.
"If the interest rates on developers' loans rise then there may come a spate of rental price increases as well."
Tuhura said his first piece of advice was to always see a professional for financial advice.
"Come and see a budget adviser or financial mentor, even if you think you've got a handle on it.
"It's always good to have someone else there to use as a sounding board and to provide a third party unbiased opinion on how you're currently faring and how you could fare if prices keep going up."
Tuhura said every person was different and financial advisers could give advice according to specific circumstances. Tuhura also recommended planning ahead.
"If you don't have a budget, get a budget, even if you do it yourself. Then look at that budget and see if there are things you don't actually need to pay for."
Tuhura's other advice included seeking more work hours if you were in casual or part-time employment.
Age Concern Rotorua manager Rory O'Rourke said the cost of petrol had affected the organisation's visiting service.
"We can't really match up volunteers to the people who need them because we have to be very conscious of the cost of travel."
Grey Power Rotorua Keith Garratt said the impact of continued increases in food and petrol costs affected the older generation just as much as anyone else.
"Where there would be a particular impact on the older generation is if they reach retirement age whilst still having a mortgage.
"Almost regardless of the living cost, it's a bit of a trap if you're not earning a wage income as a pensioner and you still have a mortgage. That has been made worse by the current circumstances."
Rotorua-based first-home buyer Raj Nakura said he was worried by the amount of money he could end up spending on groceries.
"These days, $200 can get you some frozen items and fruits. Inflation is increasing and it doesn't match what people earning."
Nakura paid the deposit on his first home in September, after two years of working multiple jobs and saving everything he could.
"Basically, I'm only spending on what I really need."
Nakura said avoiding eating out and cooking at home definitely helped. Limiting takeaway coffee purchases was also a big saver.
"Coffee costs $5.50 to $6 now and that's without alternative milks."
Rotorua mum Sheila Manlunas said petrol, power, and food were "all up there" in costs.
"Not all homes have good insulation. Even if you have a good heating system you could spend a lot on electricity but the power is the power. You have to pay for it."
Manlunas said changing product brands and working from home when possible also cut down on costs.
In terms of food, Manlunas said she didn't want to be "restrictive" with her kids' diet.
"We need food. We need to eat healthy."
University of Otago Department of Economics senior lecturer Dr Murat Ungor said, especially for low-income households, the focus would be on survival for the next few months.
"Inflation is going to be with us for a while."
Ungor said the spillover from "global shocks" caused by the Russia-Ukraine crisis, global supply chain issues exacerbated by China's continued zero-Covid policy were still being felt in the New Zealand economy.
"One of the major price increases in New Zealand has been in the construction industry, where most materials are imported."
Ungor said these uncertainties in global economics influenced New Zealand's inflation rate which in turn affected the prices of food, the rental market and transport.
"In a low-income household, the majority of their income will go towards food, rent and transport and if you see inflation in those categories then it is a very major problem for those people."
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Ungor said New Zealanders would need to spend very carefully.
"We cannot have luxuries. If as a family you used to go out for a dinner twice, it will need to go down to once or not at all."
Ungor said his advice would be to spend carefully on essentials and then save what was left over.
"The focus is on survival."