Are you guilty of compulsive holiday shopping? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Are you guilty of compulsive holiday shopping?

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December 12, 2006

Albany--  It's easy to get caught up in the holiday shopping rush but are you addicted? It's estimated that 13-million Americans are compulsive shoppers, filling bags while building tremendous debt. It's especially bad during the holidays.  That can lead to trouble for the entire next year.      

Those colorful papers offering 50-percent off deals here and there are a shopper's dream. "I love it. I love Christmas and I love to shop," said shopper Linda Johnson. But making that shopping dream a reality sometimes costs a good amount of money. Some shoppers admit they go a little overboard at Christmas.

"Yeah, I do. I do. I do," said Johnson.

"Probably, but don't ask me how much I'm spending," said shopper Barbara Hunter. No need to ask how much.  The National Retail Federation reports that the average shopper will spend about 800 dollars this Christmas.  That's up from last year and so are debts.

"Most individuals have had credit problems at one point in their life," said credit counselor Yvette Nelson.

Yvette Nelson of New Freedom Financial Services says a major point in much consumer spending is during the holidays.  Much of it is with credit cards. Nelson says people tend to spend more when they have them versus cash.

"They max their credit cards out and spend the next year trying to pay the credit cards off," said Nelson. That spending can then repeat itself the next year, so Nelson offers simple advice for shoppers.

"Limit their spending," said Nelson. But if you are going to spend, you should remember one thing to keep your credit on track.

"One very important thing. Pay your bills on time," said Nelson. It's the time of year when kids' Christmas lists are huge.

"Madden NFL '07 and a Playstation. That's all I wanted!," said Sterling Hunter.

"I think Christmas is just for the child anyway," said Barbara Hunter. Credit is no child's play.  It's the adults who sometimes lose in the holiday shopping game.

Although it's hard, credit counselors suggest setting a strict budget before you even begin shopping. That way you're able track just how much you spend. Not only will shoppers spend an average of 800 dollars on gifts, the National Retail Federation predicts they'll spend an additional 100-dollars on themselves.  

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