Kiwis experiencing anxiety after overspending Christmas budget

Over a quarter of NZ's population spent more during Christmas than they intended to.
Over a quarter of NZ's population spent more during Christmas than they intended to. Photo credit: Getty.

Kiwis are feeling anxious about their money after overspending their Christmas budget, according to a research company.

New Zealand internet marketing service Opinion Compare has found over a quarter of New Zealand's population spent more during Christmas than they intended to.

It surveyed 523 individuals across New Zealand and noticed Christmas debt affected one in five Kiwis.

"The average spend on Christmas was $769 with a variety of methods used to finance the festive season, including savings and 'buy now, pay later' services," it said.

According to Opinion Compare, survey participants who felt as if they were in debt estimated it to be an average of $552.

Of more concern is the level of anxiety this debt is causing with 57 percent of people who feel like they are in debt saying it's causing them anxiety, according to Opinion Compare.

Despite this anxiety, Opinion Compare said people are planning to pay off their debt, with half nominating better budgeting as their option.

Ayesha Scott, senior lecturer of finance at AUT, also says recovery from Christmas debt is possible.

Scott's four-point solution to holiday-induced debt woes:

Get on top of existing debt

We can't plan for next Christmas with 2019 hanging over our heads.

Pay more than the minimum across your debts and cut spending in other areas of your budget (where possible) until you have it back under control.

Consider this to be important self-care to manage your mindset as much as financially sensible. As you start seeing the total go down, you'll build momentum to pay it off faster. 

Start planning for 2020

Think about why you overspent in 2019. Did you impulse buy last-minute? Were there additional unexpected guests? Were you too generous (yes, you can manage that!)? By reflecting on how it went wrong, you can put in place strategies to ensure next time you aren't caught unawares.

Start saving for next year

Once your debt is in hand, immediately start saving for next year in a special 'Christmas' bank account. Save a little bit each week or fortnight - $20 per week for 40 weeks is $800 in total! That would cover the average Kiwi Christmas spend, plus a little extra.

Talk to your family

Talk to your family about gift-giving strategies that save everyone money. Scott says her family does 'Mean Santa' where everyone buys a gift valued $15 or less and then draws ballots. They can then choose to open a gift or steal one of the previous ones.

Other families might choose to set a maximum price on a Secret Santa, where everyone buys one gift for one person. This way, that loved one receives a thoughtful gift rather than 10 less-than-thoughtful ones.

At the end of the day, no one wants to see their family spend beyond their means and start the New Year with a debt burden.