Charity warns of debt increases over Christmas

7:56 pm on 23 December 2018

The Wellington City Mission has urged people not to go into debt for their loved ones this Christmas.

Wellington City Missioner Murray Edridge and the Mission's Community Programmes Manager Olivia Lange.

Wellington City Missioner Murray Edridge and the Mission's Community Programmes Manager Olivia Lange. Photo: RNZ / Meriana Johnsen

The warning comes as the Mission prepares for an increase in the number of people accessing the charity's financial services over the holiday period.

Its Community Programmes Manager, Olivia Lange, said many people felt the pressure to spend lots of money to give their families a good Christmas.

"There's no need to go into debt to show people that you love them.

"Christmas is one day of the year - think about the rest of the year.

"If you're wanting to buy Christmas presents for people, that's really great and it's nice to be able to give, but set yourself a budget and a list."

People should pay in cash for presents rather than using credit, and if they're short on money should consider baking or other cost effective present ideas, Ms Lange said.

It isn't just the homeless and unemployed seeking the Mission's services - they have seen an increasing number of working families.

City Missioner Murray Edridge​ said rising rental costs in the capital mean many working families have little left over for other expenses.

"The numbers are increasing and the demographic is changing - so people we wouldn't previously have seen we are seeing.

"There's no sense that in the near future that's going to change - accommodation in particular - Wellington accommodation is incredibly challenging."

The added pressure of finding money over the Christmas holiday period puts some working families into financial strife.

This problem compounds in February when back to school costs and rental price increases coincide with debt repayments, Mr Edridge said.

If people are struggling with debt, Ms Lange said the Mission can liaise with creditors to make repayments more manageable.

There are also budget advisors available that can assist people if they are really low on money this holiday season.

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