Local budget advice services are preparing for the annual onslaught as the Christmas bills start to arrive and people are faced with back to school costs.

One local service, which only reopened on Wednesday, had more than 30 phone messages waiting for it when staff arrived.

Te Runanganui O Te Arawa Budget Advisory Service budget service co-ordinator Kelly Te Ngahue said if previous Januarys were anything to go by they would be "flat stick" until the end of the month with another jump in February as people grappled with back to school costs.

"Pretty much when we opened out doors on Wednesday there was an influx."

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She said they were starting to see more wage earners looking for budgeting help with big bills to pay.

Ms Te Ngahue said people were best to seek help early, not after a second or third disconnection notice.

She said the service could help negotiate with creditors on behalf of its clients.

Rotorua Budget Advisory Service budget advisor Pearl Pavitt said she was sure some people had been spending more than they could afford over Christmas.

"I was surprised at one Christmas I went to, it took all day to open presents.

"I think it has become very commercial, advertising makes people feel like they have to spend."

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Paymark figures for Bay of Plenty revealed that in December shoppers spent 10 per cent more than in December 2014.

Mrs Pavitt said it was doubtful that income had also gone up by 10 per cent.

"It's the same old things all the time, it's people wanting things rather than needing them.

"It's a lesson people need to learn young."

Mrs Pavitt said there was nothing more predictable than getting children ready to go back to school, or having to organise Christmas and other holidays. But it was still not something that people planned for so a lot came into Work and Income for help, she said.

She said it would be great if they could come in to work with a budget adviser before they got into financial stress.

"It's getting people to admit that they want to see it on paper, that's the hard thing."

Pakanui Tuhura, manager of Rotorua Budget Advisory Service, said last year the service had 700 new clients as well as 700 existing clients.

Mr Tuhura said it was important to note that while some people were over spending, there are some who were spending in their limits but still needed help.

Where to get help:

* Te Runanganui O Te Arawa Budget Advisory Service, 1179 Eruera St, (07) 348 6351

* Rotorua Budget Advisory Service , Community House, 1115 Haupapa St, (07) 346 3236