Have you splashed too much cash over the Christmas holiday period? Reporter Jenny Ling talks to the experts to help you get back on track.
It's easy to get carried away and spend too much money over the holiday season.
Shopping to buy gifts is fraught with temptation; who hasn't kept the odd item then had to venture out again to replace it?
It's a time when we like to stock up on food and drink, when we have, if we're lucky, a few or more weeks of long summer days at the beach, cafes and shops.
There are sales spewing forth everywhere, causing many a spending hangover.
This is a particularly good time to take a serious look at your finances.
Northland financial adviser Malcolm Shepherd's initial piece of advice for anyone finding themselves in debt is: "Don't panic."
Shepherd heads Quantum Financial Advisers, a company which provides free advice on mortgages and insurance from offices in Whangārei, Paihia, Russell, Kerikeri, Kaikohe, Mangonui and Kaitāia.
They also run coaching and debt reduction programmes for clients.
Shepherd advises people to take stock of their situation and re-evaluate their goals for the coming year.
"We get very busy in February, people will often have a spending hangover, they've gone a bit crazy and bought heaps of stuff for the kids.
"They don't think it through until they get the credit card bill.
"We've come through Christmas and New Year's and we start to make wonderful resolutions and half of them, like joining the gym, go flying out the door.
"You don't want to do the same with your finances."
Shepherd's key phrase this year is to "be intentional", which means not only having good intentions, but following them through into action.
"We can have all the intent but not quite get there, especially when we become time poor with our lives. We have to try really hard to make things happen.
"With your finances, be intentional about what you're doing and keeping yourself accountable."
This can be achieved by setting smaller goals for yourself, Shepherd said.
However, when it comes to the credit card, it's best to pay the whole thing off within 30 days so as not to accrue interest.
"Normally we use the credit card over Christmas and then do minimum payments.
"A lot of people get caught in the minimum payment trap. Rather than do that, have a goal to get the credit card down entirely."
If your wallet feels lighter right now, you're not alone.
Kiwis spent up large this year and clocked up a fair bit of debt, despite a year wracked with uncertainty due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Spending on the two days before Christmas Day was up 10.4 per cent on last year, with the busiest day being Wednesday, two days before Christmas, according to Paymark.
Christmas Eve spending of $75 million was up on 2019 when $70m was spent.
New Zealanders splashed out another $62m on Boxing Day.
Planning ahead is key to avoid overspending, and Shepherd advises people start saving for next Christmas immediately.
Taking a good look at bank statements and transactions will tell you where your money has gone. This will give you an idea of how much to save for next time.
Then put some money aside each month throughout the year.
"Once your debt is in hand, immediately start saving for next year in a special Christmas bank account," Shepherd said.
"Then when you get to Christmas you don't have that extra stress on your shoulders.
"It's better for your mental health, you don't want to put more pressure on yourself than you need to.
"If you have a plan you know you can relax and live well without having to stress."
Covid-19 has taught us the importance of having some emergency savings set aside, Shepherd said.
He advised speaking to a financial adviser "if you're struggling with that side of things".
Whangārei Budgeting Service senior financial mentor Dianne Clarke agreed paying off debt quickly was key to getting on top of finances.
Listing your debts by the highest interest rate and making bigger repayments on these is wise.
Talk to your creditors if you are struggling to make repayments, she said.
Know the true cost of borrowing, Clarke said, and think about why and where you overspent in 2020.
For example, did you leave shopping till the last minute, and did you stick to a budget?
This makes it easier to put strategies in place to ensure next time doesn't leave you out of pocket.
"Try to pay off debt faster ... it's really trying to manage what they [clients] have in terms of income.
"Having a roof over your head and the basics of living is a first priority."
Clarke suggested looking into community funding with an organisation like Ngā Tāngata, which offers interest-free loans to help New Zealanders on low incomes get out of the debt cycle.
If approved, clients work with a financial mentor who offers guidance and support to help them manage their money.
"There are options out there, there's also negotiating with creditors, and we can help them do that," Clarke said.
Clarke also advises planning ahead by setting up a savings account and starting to save now.
Make sure Christmas clubs offer value for money - Pak'nSave is a good option, she said.
Talk to your family about gift-giving strategies that save everyone money.
Choose to set a maximum price on a Secret Santa, where everyone buys one gift for one person.
"Do the whānau thing and save the bling," Clarke said.
"Quality family time is more important than spending money.
"And have realistic expectations.
"For our family we have Secret Santa and have a limit. It saves a lot of hassle with buying individual presents."
One way to get your hands on some money is by asking your employer to swap annual leave for cash.
After 12 months on the job, workers can ask their employer, in writing, for up to one week of their four weeks minimum entitlement to annual holidays per year.
However, Clarke doesn't recommend this and advises people to hang onto their annual leave for well-deserved breaks.
Another way to make a bit of cash is selling off unwanted Christmas gifts.
Kiwis all over the country have been offloading Christmas gifts on Trade Me.
Trade Me spokeswoman Millie Silvester said over 4400 presents that didn't make the cut were listed online by 8am on Boxing Day, including a Mazda Demio in the wrong colour.
Silvester said it's clear our loved ones don't always nail gift-giving, despite their best intentions.
According to a recent Trade Me survey of nearly 2500 New Zealanders, 49 per cent said they received at least one unwanted Christmas gift every year.
"There's no need to feel guilty, the vast majority of gift givers are all good with the idea of on-selling or regifting," she said.
"We reckon selling a present that missed the mark is better than it sitting unused, gathering dust or ending up in the bin.
"Plus, you can use the cash to buy yourself something else you want or need, and someone else gets something they want too."