It doesn't surprise me in the least that Hawke's Bay retailers had a boomer of a month in December.

Every time I went near the shops anywhere in our beautiful twin cities the CBDs were teeming with people carrying bagfuls of shopping.

Incredible to think that, according to Paymark statistics, people spent a whopping $171.8m using credit and debit cards in just one month. And Paymark accounts for 75 per cent of transactions so that's obviously not the total figure.

Read more: Hawke's Bay retailers finish year on a high, with shoppers hunting bargains


I'm also not surprised the Focal Point Cinema in Hastings had a record-breaking month, especially with the weather between Christmas and New Year.

People had fires going and electric blankets on and children to entertain. What better way to spend a rainy cold afternoon than at the movies?

It's fantastic to see our retailers doing a roaring trade.

However, now is the time that many people start to struggle keeping up with credit card payments, buying extra food for visitors, entertaining children and then, in a few weeks' time, buying uniforms and stationery.

So now is the time to ask for help before it gets out of hand.

It's much easier to push it to one side and "deal with it next month". But we all know where procrastinating gets us — absolutely nowhere.

Don't be too proud to ask for help.

There are many community organisations throughout the Bay offering financial advice so if you know someone you think may be heading for trouble, perhaps give them a gentle nudge in the right direction — eventually they will thank you for it..