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Personal Finance questions: Gift-givers staying conservative

Will you spend more, less or about the same this holiday season than you did last year? Why?

By Helen Huntley, Times Personal Finance Editor
Published November 18, 2007


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We asked

Will you spend more, less or about the same this holiday season than you did last year? Why?

We will spend about the same or perhaps more as we just found out we'll be having a few more family guests this year - everyone loves Florida. We're experienced savers, so we put money aside each month for at least six months before the holidays.

Billy Ball, Pinellas Park

For sure, we will spend less this Christmas due to economic uncertainties coupled with the fact our needs are small and already fulfilled.

Marv Bachman, Clearwater

I am planning on spending slightly more on holiday gifts this year. This is the first year that I have been working a job with my college degree; it doesn't pay much but it compensates better than previously. My fiance and I split the cost of big-ticket gifts. But spending money on gifts rather than paying down debt means it will only be minimum payments for the next month or two.

Andrew Butler, Port Richeye_SClBI expect to spend the same amount as last holiday season. The amount of loved ones I have in my life hasn't changed.

Thomas Botelho, Seminole

Because I mostly give money, I increase it each year a little. You know - inflation.

Brad Bryan, Trinity

I'd rather save my money for my education. It's stupid spending so much money you don't have on things that will go out of fashion in a few months. I'll keep my money and wait for next year.

Sandra Chan, Pinellas Park

I'm real conservative in spending, therefore there is no difference of this year or previous years. Even with two kids still in their late teens, whom I'm trying to teach to think like me, I'll try to stay my course.

Heiko Bonner, Indian Rocks Beach

You asked

Do you think funds like Fidelity Freedom 2025 and T. Rowe Price Retirement 2025 are a good idea for saving for retirement? I'm not sure when I'll retire.

Funds that target a particular retirement date are a great idea for investors looking for one-stop shopping. You get a blend of U.S. and international stocks, bonds and cash that will become more conservative as you get closer to the target date. You don't have to know right now when you are going to retire. Just keep in mind that the farther away the date of the fund, the higher the risk because it will have more invested in stocks.

Many mutual fund companies have funds like this. If you're in a 401k plan, you probably don't have a choice of companies. But if you're buying on your own, compare costs and choose a low-cost option.

Next week's question

How have higher gas prices affected you? Have you changed your driving patterns?

To ask a question, make a comment or answer the Money Question of Week, email hhuntley@sptimes.com or write Helen Huntley, PO Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. Visit her MoneyTalk blog (blogs.tampabay.com/money) for more money information.

[Last modified November 16, 2007, 22:18:46]


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