The Dunedin Budget Advisory Service has experienced an increase in demand for its services, as food prices show the largest annual increase in 32 years — up 11.3% in December, 2022, compared with December, 2021.
Executive officer Andrew Henderson said, although numbers were hard to track over December and January, the budgeting service was definitely seeing a rise in demand, conducting 173 interviews in November and 195 in December.
"Many of those conversations were with people who were very concerned about their mortgage repayments going up, and the effect that would have on their budgets," Mr Henderson said.
"They are definitely looking for ways to cut back — it is quite a worrying time for a lot of people."
During tough times such as these, people should refrain from using credit facilities, and stay away from loans that might create problems in the future, he said.
Planning for spending spikes such as back-to-school costs could be beneficial, although he realised that it was very difficult for people on low incomes.
He advised those who were struggling with covering the cost of uniforms and stationery, to talk to the school, as there were ways they could help. MSD could also provide help with back-to-school costs for families in need, Mr Henderson said.
With costs rising, now was a good time for everyone to take a good look at their spending, and to consider "sticking to the basics" to help cut back on bills, he said.
It was also a good time to review things such as insurance, electricity, internet, phones and streaming services, to see if savings could be made.
Dunedin Budget Advisory Service provides free, confidential and independent advice — to make contact, visit budgetingdunedin.co.nz or phone (03) 471-6158.