Season Setbacks

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‘Tis the season for shopping and spending.

However, experts are saying even with lower gas prices and a strong economy one-third of consumers say they are cutting back on their Christmas purchases.

Tony Walker, president of Walker Financial Services said he believes too that shoppers will be spending less, but not until next season.

"That's my theory. I think a lot of people are going to see the effects of the economy, but it will affect them for next Christmas," Walker said. "I believe this year they're probably going to spend like they always have."

Walker also said the best way to get ready financially for next season is to go ahead and start a Christmas Club account for 2007 allowing you to put money aside for the holiday.

"Most people have already made their Christmas list out. We're seeing people already spending money now, so it's a little late for this year, but there's many things you can do for next year,” Walker explained.

One suggested way to save money is to save on your taxes.

"To save money on taxes you can deduct your state income tax this year, you can make your charitable contributions this year, and you can pay your real estate taxes this calendar year," Walker said. "All of these things will help to save money on taxes this year so you can afford all those Christmas presents.”

And if possible try and avoid the credit card crunch.

"Statistically the average person will spend $900 this year on Christmas and unfortunately most of those people will charge a lot of it on credit cards, and it's estimated it will take six months next year to pay off this years Christmas,” Walker said.

Monday, Nov. 27, 2006, is also Cyber Monday, the day where many people log online to do their Christmas shopping.

Here's a few tips to shop safely online this holiday season:

  • Watch out for emails from scammers saying there's a problem with your order. A real online retailer would never ask you to send information via email.
  • Also, try not to use debit cards to purchase online. Credit cards offer more protection.
  • Research vendors and personal sellers before making purchases and print and save records of your online transactions.
  • And finally, make sure the site you are shopping from is secure. To check make sure the address bar reads https, not just http. The additional "s" stands for secure so you know your credit card information is on a secure server.