UnitingCare Community is urging people to spend with caution over the Christmas and holiday period.
UnitingCare Community’s Client Service Delivery Director Julie Aganoff said Financial Counsellors were concerned about further interest rate rises, increases in mortgage repossessions and continuing cases of out-of-control credit card debts.
“Individuals and families are being careful to manage their money throughout the year to avoid financial hardship,” Ms Aganoff said.
“Lifeline Financial Counsellors report seeing low income earners unable to manage their credit card bills, while middle-income earners are having problems paying their mortgages.
“What is common between both groups is the borrowing to repay existing debt – trying to play catch-up which inevitably fails and compounds the original debt problem,” Ms Aganoff said.
UnitingCare Community Financial Counsellor Robyn Underwood said the spending frenzy over the holiday season may put some people, without realising it, into a precarious financial position.
“Overspending during the festive season may lead to financial pressures that can have an overflow affect on relationships and may create family conflict – all the things individuals and families want to actually avoid during what’s meant to be a joyful and relaxing period,” said Ms Underwood.
“Individuals and families across Queensland should stick to a Christmas spending budget to ensure they’re not in financial hardship at the beginning of 2011,” said Ms Aganoff.
UnitingCare Community have put together a list of tips for people to follow to ensure that they remain on track with their budget and avoid falling into financial hardship.
Lifeline also operates a Financial First Aid Line for those who are experiencing financial pressure. Open Mon-Fri from 9:00am – 6:00pm, anyone can contact the Financial First Aid Line on 1300 370 255 to discuss financial options direct with a financial counsellor.
REFLECT ON WHAT’S REALLY IMPORTANT
Christmas stress and worry can leave you financially and emotionally broke. Take stock of what is really important to you and your family this Christmas and plan your spending accordingly.
PLAN EARLY FOR CHRISTMAS
Plan to do your Christmas shopping early. Know how much you have available to spend on Christmas and avoid using credit cards beyond a limit you can budget to pay back within a reasonable time frame.
MAKE A LIST
Try not to be tempted by the strong advertising and marketing messages at Christmas time. Consider your priorities – focus on essentials and forget about luxuries.
DIFFERENTIATE YOUR NEEDS AND WANTS
Work out your budget and stick to it. Work out separate budget for food, drink, gifts, sundries, your normal living costs and debt repayments. Remember to leave a buffer of about 10% to account for emergencies.
STAY WITHIN YOUR BUDGET
This can be tough, however bargain hunting is such great fun and you'll be surprised just how creative you can become.
Consider giving home made gifts - play to your talent, e.g. baking, craft, handyman, artistic, babysitting, seamstress etc. People who cannot do those things really appreciate your time, skills and talent.
Plan low-cost 'family together' days or outings. Meaningful memories are made from experiences not merchandise. You may even create a new family Christmas tradition.