An Auckland budgeting service says it has been inundated with requests for help from desperate families over the Christmas break, but the worst may be yet to come for many families.
Mangere Budgeting Services closed down just before Christmas for the holidays, while its food bank remained open.
- Aid groups offer help to the homeless this Christmas
- The key to saving money at the supermarket
- Low income families feeling more hopeful under Labour Government - Expert
Chief executive Darryl Evans says it received many calls for help throughout the break from vulnerable families.
"My staff are telling me we have been inundated with requests for food," says Mr Evans.
As parents hope to give their children a special Christmas break, Mr Evans says many would have resorted to piling their purchases onto their credit card. As the bills start to come in, he says families are already going into "panic mode".
But Mr Evans says another big blow to the wallets of families will be the expensive cost of buying stationary and uniforms for children starting back at school.
He believes the focus for schools should be on educating children and they need to cut down on the specialised items students are required to have.
Mr Evans says some schools dictate what stores parents should buy their stationary, technology and uniforms from, meaning parents are missing out on cheaper but similar items.
"A white shirt is a white shirt. We shouldn't be elitist with what our kids wear to school," he says.
"Back to school costs per child can be around $900 and if you have two or three kids going to school that can be a massive hit in the pocket."
Instead of taking out loans, parents should work with schools to figure out a payment scheme that works for both parties, says Mr Evans.
He also says families shouldn't feel any shame in asking for help during what can be a difficult time.
"There is no shame in putting your hand up and asking for help... make an appointment, go and speak to a financial mentor and put a plan in place".