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CU System
Media look to CUNA experts for holiday spending advice
MADISON, Wis. (11/27/07)--Financial experts from the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) are at the forefront in helping consumers at least think twice about their holiday spending this year. A number of articles have appeared this week in which CUNA experts are quoted. For example, an article on "10 ways to save on gift-giving" in a Clark County, Wash., newspaper features advice from Jim Hanson, vice president of CUNA's center for personal finance, and Susan Tiffany, CUNA's director of personal finance information for adults (The Columbian, Nov. 25). "You'll temporarily feel good about yourself if you buy expensive gifts for people, but in the long term, you don't feel great about yourself or the situation you put your family in if you can't manage your debt," Hanson said. Tiffany tells consumers to: "Think quality, not quantity" and recommends scaling back. Some families implement a three-gift rule at Christmas in homage to the three wise men's gifts, she said. Or implement a secret Santa tradition; instead of buying for the entire family, the consumer buys for one name drawn. She also says clipping newspaper coupons and checking for direct-mail ads with coupons to cut costs. Hanson and Tiffany also advise consumers to protect their identity by not using debit cards for online purchases and read the fine print on refund an exchange policies. CUNA economists have also been featured in mass media coverage about a holiday spending survey sponsored by CUNA and the Consumer Federation of America. In the survey, consumers said they would be spending a little less this year, because of higher gasoline costs and heating bills(News Now Nov. 20). In addition to 30 media outlets that covered the CUNA/CFA press conference last week, the survey has been the basis for a tongue-in-cheek article in Slate.com that says nothing will stop the American holiday shopper. A version of the article also appears in the Dec. 3 issue of Newsweek. Other articles on the economy and holiday spending featuring Bill Hampel, CUNA chief economist, appeared in South Florida Sun Sentinel (Nov. 26) and The Kansas City Star (Nov. 19). The average American will spend $923.36 on food, gifts, greeting cards and decorations for the holiday, although spending will increase by a smaller margin than in past holidays, according to the National Retail Federation.
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