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Community Bankers Encourage Gift Givers to Start Saving for 2008 Holiday Season Now

Regular Contributions Help Avoid Holiday Debt Hangover

Washington, D.C. (December 12, 2007)—With the average shopper expected to spend about $925 on holiday gifts and other personal holiday needs in 2007*, the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) urges consumers to set up a holiday savings account now and contribute to it regularly throughout 2008.

"A holiday savings account is a great way to purchase the gifts you want for your friends and family and not go into debt to do it," said James P. Ghiglieri, Jr., ICBA chairman and president of Alpha Financial Group, Inc., Toluca, Ill. "A holiday fund can be very important psychologically because it allows savers to have one goal in mind, saving to ensure they have the holiday they want, without going into debt to do so. If you didn't build a holiday savings account for this year, start one right away or early in the New Year and contribute to it regularly."

In addition to saving for holiday gifts, a holiday fund can be used to set aside money for other holiday spending as well, such as for donations to charity, holiday entertaining or for other items you need or want for yourself. "It's human nature to buy something for yourself while you are shopping for others," said Ghiglieri. "Be realistic and take your own needs into account, just save a few extra dollars above your planned holiday spending."

Holiday funds allow bank customers to set their own savings goal and deposit schedule. Generally, money in holiday savings accounts cannot be withdrawn except during a particular window of time, usually between October and January, depending on the rules of the account. An added benefit is that by using a holiday fund, your savings also builds interest which can be used to start a new fund for the next holiday season or withdrawn for shopping in the current season. Some community banks may even offer higher interest rates if customers use direct deposit either from a paycheck or from a checking account.

To learn more about holiday savings funds, visit your local community bank.

* The National Retail Federation's 2007 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey