Avoid credit this Christmas, warns Centacare counsellor

With Australians racking up $15 billion on credit cards over the Christmas shopping period last year, a Sydney Centacare financial counsellor has renewed his warning that families risk financial damage if they pay for Christmas expenses on credit.

Centacare's David Bell says "credit and Christmas simply don't go together", the Catholic Weekly reports.

"The difficulty with running the credit card up is it puts a whole lot of pressure on the family post Christmas," he said.

"If you use the credit card this year it is going to be next Christmas before you pay it off, if, in fact, it is paid off by then.

"The big message is don't use credit for Christmas."

Mr Bell says families should set budgets for Christmas and "start planning at the start of the new year".

"Make sure you set spending limits and make sure you don't go shopping without a list, because if you go without a list it tends to promote impulse buying," he said.

"And don't leave everything to the last minute."

He also warns people to avoid being consumed by the "pressure to perform".

"There is a lot of pressure on families to perform at Christmas time, but that is not really what Christmas is about," he said.

"I think the sooner that a family breaks that pressure, or breaks the cycle of having to keep up with everyone around them, the better for the family as a whole."

Don't go mad with credit cards (Catholic Weekly, 10/12/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Centacare Sydney

Families risk financial security over credit cards (CathNews, 22/3/05)
Centacare warns low-income families on credit card trap (CathNews, 3/12/04)

7 Dec 2006