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North Fulton and Forsyth counties appear to be ahead of the debt curve



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January 22, 2013
CUMMING, Ga. North Fulton and Forsyth County families are ahead of the game when it comes to paying off holiday debt.

A November 2012 survey by the American Research Group revealed Americans planned to spend about $854 for holiday gifts in 2012 with a good portion of that going on credit cards.

Now that the holidays are over, Americans are left with the task of paying for these purchases.

When asked by the Georgia Credit Union Affiliate how long it will take to pay off holiday debt, Georgians said anywhere from one month to over a year.

Holiday debt remains a problem for many Georgians.

When asked how they plan to pay off the debt, 32.2 percent of respondents said they have no plan.

However, many residents in North Fulton and Forsyth counties don't fall into this category.

They didn't use credit cards for holiday purchases. They paid cash.

While North Fulton and Forsyth counties sit above the national income level average, which may contribute to their ability to pay cash for purchases, for some, it's simply smart planning.

"I use my credit card for everything throughout the year and pay it off monthly, so I can earn points," Sarah Holloman of Alpharetta said. "Then I use the points I've earned to pay for holiday gifts."

Holloman has a general budget, but it can change based on the amount of points she earns.

Stacie Garramone of Cumming also uses her credit card points for gifts.

"My husband puts aside a specific amount every paycheck for birthday and holiday gifts," she said. "We use a credit card for everyday purchases and then pay it back monthly per the budget."

Garramone said they usually go over the budget and that's when the points earned helps.

Paul and Lynn Crowe of Alpharetta went slightly over their budget this year, but still paid cash.

"Lynn purchases holiday gifts throughout the year when she sees things on sale," Crowe said. "We give gifts like gas cards to our kids, and then have a few smaller wrapped presents."

Crowe said they went over budget because of a more expensive gift for his wife, but it didn't impact their everyday budget.

Tom and Isa Valdes of Alpharetta changed how they purchase holiday gifts this year. "We typically put everything on a credit card and pay it off with our tax refund," she said. "But this year we paid cash."

Valdes said unlike previous years, they did not purchase gifts for extended family so they could stay within their budget.

"We knew those extra gifts would wipe out our accounts and we wanted to keep a buffer," she said.

Belinda Johnson of Cumming purchased gifts for about 45 people, putting it all on credit.

"We budget every year and put it on the credit card, but pay it off immediately," she said.

Rarely does Johnson go over budget.

"I'm a savvy shopper," she said. "I hit the sales online and in the stores and purchase things throughout the year."

Haidee Bell of Cumming also used cash.

"Due to a major life change, I went over my budget and didn't save for the holiday," she said.

Bell said she tweaked her budget to accommodate the holiday purchases.

While the average American is working toward paying off their holiday credit card debt, North Fulton and Forsyth counties seemed to plan for the purchases in advance and came out ahead of the game for this past holiday season.

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