The added pressure of back-to-school costs has forced some families to go to payday lenders and some struggle to pay back the money according to the National Building Financial Capability Trust.

Families have just spent large sums of money on the festive season, so new stationery, uniforms and digital devices are proving to be a bridge too far in some cases.

The National Building Financial Capability Trust chief executive Tim Barnett said parents might feel pressured into having to meet those costs and that there was an expectation on them to provide the items.

"One part of our advice is to prioritise within those items with what has to be done and then look at alternatives. For ones like uniforms, second-hand are possible." It was also possible to decorate "a fairly cheapo and dull bit of stationery" to make it look more exciting.

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Failing to meet the repayment schedule with the companies was something that could "harm the family and quite possibly mean they can't provide the kind of environment for the child that they want to", Mr Barnett said.

The trust has a network of 210 local budget services around the country including six services in Hawke's Bay.

Budget First Hastings coordinator and budget adviser Kristal Leach said a number of clients had asked for financial mentoring and help accessing school uniform advances through Work and Income.

Ms Leach believed 20 per cent of clients, particularly in January and early February, were seeking advice about school-related costs.

Her simple message for those thinking of going to payday lenders was to "avoid them at all cost".

"They've got quite a high interest component so, rather than a bank that might charge you 15 per cent, they'll charge you 260 per cent."

Ms Leach said it was not surprising people went to such lenders, given most of her agency's clients were not eligible to borrow from banks as they had low credit scores.

The financial mentoring agency offers help for people to manage their money and understand their financial situation.

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"There is support in the community. If you are on a low income I would ring the school as they are not going to expect you to get a loan to buy school-related items."

Ministry of Education deputy secretary for sector enablement and support Katrina Casey said any parent who was worried about back-to-school costs, such as uniforms, stationery or other school equipment, should talk to their school.

"Schools want children and young people to attend and will do all they can to help.
Schools can support parents in a number of ways. That can include staggering payments and helping to make second-hand uniforms available or putting families in touch with other organisations that can help.

In addition, a range of support was available from the Ministry of Social Development (Work and Income NZ) for beneficiaries who were finding the start of the school year a particular challenge, Ms Casey said.

• For assistance visit Work and Income