The Money Advice and Budgeting Service (Mabs) say they are witnessing an increase in the numbers of clients struggling with the cost of First Communions.
Recent surveys found that the average family spends more than €1,000 on their child’s special day.
Mabs says people are failing to budget for the event and as a result often resort to moneylenders.
Money advice co-ordinator with Cork Mabs, Margaret O’Neill, stresses that families often do not plan enough in advance.
“The key time to start thinking about the sacraments is literally October and November of the previous year when the school has the first meeting on it,” said Ms O’Neill. “That is the time to start planning for it.
“Now, it is really difficult, particularly if you are on a limited income, because that is where there is a risk of falling in to debt where you will go to get money. And you may go somewhere where the interest rates are very high. If you have a child making the sacrament next year come in, ring us. We will help you plan.”
Mabs says peer pressure is a huge problem behind overspending at First Communion time.
They cautioned families about the dangers of illegal money lenders, who can charge interest of up to 200% on borrowings.
Meanwhile, a survey by MummyPages.ie last year found found that one in seven families (14%) are prepared to spend between €1,000 and €3,000 on the day, almost half (48%) will spend between €500 and €1,000, and 38% will keep their outlay to less than €500.
More than 50,000 children are making their First Holy Communion this month.
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