Some holiday shoppers may charge now, worry later - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Some holiday shoppers may charge now, worry later

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By Len Kiese - bio | email

November 18, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - As Christmas gets closer, some credit card companies are making it harder for shoppers to charge now and pay later. Many companies instituted new requirements to get credit and even reduced credit limits for existing consumers.

Some south Georgians say credit is the only way they'll be able to put gifts under the tree for the holidays but there are some tips to keep credit card users from getting into big financial trouble.

The sights at the mall can fuel the spending frenzy during the holidays. There are all of the colorful lights on trees and the 75-percent off signs which can add up to motivation to pull out the credit card and simply swipe.

"I use it a lot," said shopper Melly Rentz. Rentz admits she's quick to resort to plastic. "Everytime I go shopping," said Rentz.

This Christmas will be no exception. She has plans to use the old faithful card. 

"A lot. I have to buy a lot of presents for my Dad, my Mom, my friends and I have to buy myself a little something too," said Rentz.

The National Retail Federation recently conducted a survey of nearly 9,000 consumers. Nearly 32-percent said they'll be using credit as their primary source of payment during the holidays.

"With the economy the way that it is now, we're all affected and we need to come up with alternative ways to celebrate the holidays," said Melba Bridges with the Consumer Credit Counseling Service.

Bridges says to avoid trouble, make a shopping list. "Write down how much you plan to spend on each individual that's on your list and stick to the list," said Bridges. Use that list to shop early instead of at the last-minute. "Sometimes that's when we overspend," said Bridges.

If you can, cash may be the best option.  That way you may be more careful not to overspend. "And if you don't pay cash, have a plan to pay off what you might charge. Don't just charge and not keep up with it," said Bridges.

With the current economy, it may good to get creative.  In other words, go cheap or free. "Maybe give them a card that says I'll do something for you, wash your car, clean your house, bake you a cake," said Bridges.

It could prevent your credit cards from ending up cut in half. The bottom line is budget. "I try but it doesn't really work out for me," said Rentz.

Rentz plans to buy now and worry later because it's worth it once a year. "It's just a special time of the year when you're with your family and sharing presents. It's just a great time of the year," said Rentz.

It'll probably be after the New Year when we all realize just how much we've spent.

The National Retail Federation found that more people plan to use cash this year to purchase gifts so the number of people who plan to use credit is down slightly.

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