Save or spend for Christmas? Christmas clubs can help - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Save or spend for Christmas? Christmas clubs can help

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By Len Kiese - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –Spend or save? It's a tough choice for many families dealing with tight budgets during this tough economy. Members of an area credit union managed to save a lot of money that they can now spend this holiday season.

Tracy B. Canty knows all about the ABC's and 123's. She's a special education teacher at Dougherty Comprehensive High School.

"Counting money and telling time. That's the kind of math we do," said Canty.

She's used to counting numbers in the classroom. Outside the classroom, the equations aren't always favorable for teachers. "Because being a teacher, we only get paid once a month," said Canty.

One paycheck a month plus strict budgets and holidays approaching can add up to a bad math problem, especially if you're like Canty. "I do love giving and seeing everyone happy," said Canty.

So years ago she started using something called the Christmas Club Savings Account at her credit union. "It helps them to be able to budget for the year, to be able to put some money back for Christmas so it doesn't hit them all at one time," said DOCO Regional Federal Credit Union Vice-President of Member Services Carol Wolfe.

Depending on the amount, DOCO Regional Federal Credit Union members also get dividends on that money. "Each November 1st, we transfer it over to their savings or checking accounts for the holiday spending," said Wolfe.

This year those savings hit a record. "It was very popular. We had about $1.2 million that moved over into the checking or savings accounts," said Wolfe.

Those $1.2 million plus dollars can eventually spill into the local economy as members spend for the holidays. "The concern is that if you're spending money outside of the area that those dollars aren't going to circulate into the community," said Darton College Economist Aaron Johnson.

Johnson says every dollar will count for local retailers this holiday season when shopping is expected to be down. More local spending can even lead to folks getting a few more hours at work. "Businesses are going to want to see some type of sustained movement with the consumers," said Johnson.

You don't have to tell Mrs. Canty to get moving. She's ready. 

"That's a great feeling compared to if I didn't have the Christmas account. I wouldn't be able to shop," said Canty. She's ready to shop and give. This year she won't have to crunch numbers or break the bank to do it.

There's a small early withdrawal fee for folks if they touch that money before it's released. That encourages people to keep saving.

DOCO Regional Federal Credit Union also has a Vacation Club. Members can save money throughout the year toward those summer trips.

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