Archive for Thursday, December 20, 2001

Banking on the holidays

Holiday gift-giving help comes from banks, creative consumers

December 20, 2001

Saving pennies and pocket change throughout the year adds up to a holiday bonus for some shoppers. Debbie Campbell at Douglas County Bank said she has several customers who rely on the accumulation of coins to pay for holiday expenses.

At Kaw Valley Bank, customers can start a special Christmas fund without piling up pennies from January to December. The Christmas Club starts in November and allows customers to save for a 50-week period. Customers get coupons in a set amount, such as $5, $10 or $20, to deposit each week. At the end of the 50 weeks, customers can get checks for $250, $500 or $1,000.

"You're not required to make the payments each month," said Assistant Vice President Rhonda Shepard. "You can pay however much you want."

The club doesn't earn interest, Shepard said, but it eliminates the temptation to spend while saving.

"It's a really neat way to set aside money that you can't get to," she said.

Some customers use the club to save for other expenditures, like taxes. Shepard said when she used the club the money went toward vehicle taxes due in November.

"We have quite a few customers take advantage of it," she said.

Few people probably experience the enormous task of planning for Christmas like Roger and Bernadette Fulks, who have 12 children. Although they buy gifts for each child and each other, Bernadette said, a good part of their Christmas is about spending time together, not just money.

"We started a tradition about four years ago that we take our children out to supper one of the days before Christmas," she said. "It's one time for me to get all of my children together. It takes a while to get everybody together."

Their children find gift certificates from Dairy Queen, Sonic and other Eudora restaurants in their stockings, giving them an opportunity to make a "lunch date" and spend time with family over the break from school.

Bernadette also said rather than giving material gifts to special friends the Fulks will have a Mass celebrated in their honor.

"That always seems to be a nice gift for people who are nice friends of ours," she said.

For the material gifts, though, Bernadette said she had to devise a plan to keep all of those gifts hidden before Christmas. Sometimes that meant wrapping them to get them out of the way.

"I'm getting pretty good at hiding things," she said. "I've got a big house, but I've got kids all over it."

Aside from gift certificates, Bernadette said it was hard to shop local for Christmas gifts.

"I used to do quite a bit at Arrowhead until they closed, and that's not a reality anymore," she said. "I hope that will change."

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