DUBLIN, Ohio (12/3/07)--Ohio credit unions are reminding shoppers to spend their money wisely during the holidays and are offering tips on how to avoid debt. Although consumers are concerned about rising expenses, such as gas, spending will increase this year compared to last year, said Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Chief Economist Bill Hampel. “This time of year, we tend to lose weight in our back pocket,” said Paul Mercer, Ohio Credit Union League president. “While we do not want to downplay the importance of giving to our loved ones and those in need, we do want to make sure consumers are not spending irresponsibly and finding themselves racking up excessive debt.” About 76% of credit unions offer Christmas Club accounts, which allow members to set aside a specified amount from their paychecks throughout the year. When the holidays arrive, funds from the Christmas Club accounts are transferred into members’ checking or savings. Some suggestions that credit unions can offer their members during the holidays include:
* Make a list of gifts and dollar amounts; * Avoid using credit cards; pay for gifts with cash; * Shop early and compare prices; * Take advantage of sales and coupons; * Don’t shop for yourself; * Pay with a credit card instead of a debit card, because credit card charges can be disputed; * Prevent identity theft by not using debit cards for online shopping; and * Create a timeline for paying off holiday bills--such as by Valentine’s Day.