People can’t afford Christmas

Modern Christmas, dominated by commercialism and relentless pressure on ever widening present lists, is a financial challenge for most people.

Newstalk ZB:  Survey shows one in five Kiwis can’t afford Christmas

A new survey has shed light on the struggles Kiwi families face during Christmas.

The Salvation Army survey shows one in five Kiwis say they can’t afford to celebrate Christmas, with almost half saying Christmas is a time of financial struggle.

Head of Welfare Services Major Pam Waugh told Kate Hawkesby these numbers don’t come as a surprise, given the rising living costs.

“When you look at what’s going on in our communities and you listen to families, this us quite indicative of what we see coming through our door but also of families struggling to keep their head above water.”

Ever year the number of families needing help increases, however Waugh says they are hoping the Government’s Families Package will start to help.

“This year we are hoping to stabilise it. We think the Families Package has made a dent…but a lot of the families we work with are struggle with debt that has built up over years of not being able to afford their basic living cost.”

“We have encouraged people to look at that debt and get it paid down so in another year or so we will see the full impact of those packages.”

She said Christmas puts added stress on families who are already struggling to cope.

“Christmas impacts on all of us. We are in a consumer-driven society. Children are watching TV and see what they want. They have the same wishes and wants as all children and that impacts on our families who really struggle to provide that.”

While not being able to afford Christmas depends on what your budget is, generally and for the Christmas period, it has become a financial disaster zone for many people.

I remember some very sparse Christmases when I was a child, especially in years where fruit was hit badly by frost. Things are easier these days by a long way for me.

But it’s very easier to get drawn into more presents for more more people, and far more food than anyone needs. And this can set the finances back far more than is necessary.

I’m looking forward to a great Christmas this year – it will be the first one shared with three grandchildren who are coming to stay for three weeks. The present challenge is amplified because they all have birthdays in the week or so before they arrive. But just sharing the occasion with them will mean more than anything that money can buy.