New Zealanders to spend wisely over Christmas

Posted On December 11, 2006

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New Zealanders are being warned to watch their spending over Christmas to avoid financial problems in January.

Family Budgeting Services chief executive Raewyn Fox said families often suffered in the long-term as a result of short-lived good times at Christmas.

“The desire to provide expensive gifts and holiday treats can make January difficult and stressful for many families.” Basic budgeting was fundamental and people needing help should speak to a budget adviser, she said.

The Retirement Commissioner Diana Crossan said many New Zealanders did not understand how their credit cards worked and Christmas could end up costing them more than they bargained for.

“Credit cards are very convenient, but unless you start the month with a zero balance, for example, your purchases may end up costing you more than you expected through added interest.” Paying the card off in full gave interest-free days, but if even a dollar was left on the card next month’s purchases would attract interest immediately, she said.

Ms Crossan urged people to check how the interest on their credit cards worked, pay off them off each month, save for Christmas and shop before you buy.

Meanwhile, the Bank of New Zealand personal financial services general manager Blair Vernon said all New Zealanders needed to take control of their finances and think carefully about their spending in the coming months. People who did not expect to pay off their credit card each month should switch to a low interest rate card and consolidate high interest debt into a personal loan or a low interest card, he said.

Reserve bank statistics showed last December New Zealanders charged $2.132 billion to their credit cards,  a $238 million dollar increase on the previous month.