CFFC research indicates that people struggling the most financially also feel the most pressure to spend at Christmas.
One in four New Zealanders felt pressure from their family or community to spend more on Christmas than they would like to, according to responses from 1500 people in CFFC's latest Financial Capability Barometer.
That pressure was enhanced among groups that identified as "sinking badly" financially and "sinking a bit" - 32% of the first group felt pressure to spend more than they wanted to, and 21% of the latter.
Pressure was also felt more by Māori, Pasifika and people in the younger age group of 18-34. Among Māori, 36% feel pressure to spend more than they were comfortable with; the same pressure was felt by 48% of Pasifika and 36% of 18-34 year olds.
Family-imposed pressure to escalate spending was greater than the pressure many felt from advertising and social media. Just 15 per cent of people said they felt pressure from the media.
Acting Head of CFFC, Peter Cordtz, said that while cultural expectations around generosity were at play in the higher Māori and Pasifika figures, pressure to spend at Christmas was a stress felt by most.
"We encourage everyone to talk with their whānau about their long-term goals for 2019, and how Christmas 2018 fits in as just part of that," said Cordtz. "Don't go without, but talk to your family about what's reasonable to spend so everyone has a stress-free platform on which to enter the new year."
The risk in overspending at Christmas was arriving at February ill-equipped to deal with back-to-school costs.
Ways of limiting Christmas spending was to set a dollar limit on gifts, buy only for young children in the family, or start a 'secret Santa' system where each member buys for only one other person within a set dollar limit.
"Start those conversations now, and get your whānau on board."