It's time to count the heavy cost of splurging

FINANCIAL counsellors are bracing for a flood of calls from people who splurged on gifts and sale items they can't afford to pay for.

Anglicare Tasmania statewide financial counselling co-ordinator Anthony Plisek said the service would receive between 30 and 40 calls a day in the peak period after Christmas.

People wanting to see someone face-to-face will have to wait up to five weeks for an appointment.

Mr Plisek said call volumes were set to spike after credit card bills arrived early in the new year.

"People try to do the best they can for their families and give them the best Christmas possible," he said.

"The trouble is they often forget that they need to be able to pay for it in the end."

Final retail sales figures for the 2013 Christmas period are yet to be released, but it was expected Australians would spend over $30 billion during the six-week period - an increase of more than 5 per cent from last year.

Added to the equation are post-Christmas sales. Tasmanians spent around $47.1 million on Boxing Day alone - at an average of $103.60 a person.

Tasmanians are expected to spend another $264 million before January 14.

Mr Plisek said he was concerned by the hype surrounding Boxing Day and holiday sales.

"Splurging out is fine if you've got the cash to spare after living expenses or have the means to make repayments," he said.

"But people believe that because an item is cheap they can afford it. Just because an item is discounted it doesn't mean you can necessarily pay for it."

Mr Plisek said people tended to reach for their wallets with their hearts instead of their heads during the holiday season.

"This spending can impact fairly harshly on people, especially on low- income families," he said.

Tasmanians needed to be very wary of turning to gambling to solve their financial woes.

"People will often try to make a quick dollar trying to pay for the presents," he said.

"Gambling is not a solution to making money. It's a form of entertainment that offers you little if any reward."

Mr Plisek said people needed start planning ahead for next year as soon as possible.

"People need to start saving towards next Christmas now," he said.

"A savings plan will prevent a whole lot of heartache this time next year."

•If you need financial counselling, contact Anglicare on 1800007007

•If you need help or counselling, contact Lifelink Samaritans 1300364566, Lifeline 131114, Kids Helpline 1800551800, MensLine Australia 1300789978, the StandBy Response Service 24-hour number on 0408133884, or beyondblue 1300224636.

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