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Citizens Bank offers spending tips for consumers for the holiday shopping season

Providence, R.I.    (December 16, 2009) - In the midst of a busy shopping season, Citizens Bank is offering spending and budgeting tips for consumers. Citizens hopes these suggested guidelines will help consumers manage their money and prevent the accumulation of debt, which can cripple household finances.  

“While there are signs of an improving economy, we’re expecting the holiday shopping season may be more difficult for some families,” said Ned Handy, President, Citizens Bank, Rhode Island. “Many get caught up in the enthusiasm of the holiday season, but everyone should take some time to plan ahead. Planning ahead can help consumers take a more disciplined approach, which can limit over-spending.”

Citizens Bank suggests the following guidelines for holiday shopping:

Set up a spending budget – Know your spending limits and avoid impulse purchases. Be realistic and keep your budget manageable.

Make a list – Write down all the people and organizations you want to recognize during the holidays, setting a spending limit for each name on your list. Bring the list with you when shopping and stay within your budget.

Don’t bring all of your credit cards – Choose one or two cards to shop with and leave the remainder home. You are more likely to overspend when you have all your credit cards with you.

Use debit cards – Consider paying with a debit card rather than a credit card because the money is deducted from your checking account right away and there will be no bill to pay later. A debit card is also safer than carrying cash. Some banks, such as Citizens Bank, have debit cards that give back to the consumer by offering reward points that may be redeemed for gift cards at popular retailers, brand name merchandise, free travel and more. 

Use credit cards wisely – Try to pay off the credit card bill every month. If you can’t pay off the card each month, use a card that has a low interest rate. Also, use cards that give back to you (offering reward points, airline miles, etc.).

Write down credit and debit card information – Make a list of all your account numbers and phone numbers for your cards in case your wallet is lost or stolen. Keep this list in a safe place should you need to notify the bank or credit card company.
Consider layaway plans – Some retailers are reviving layaway plans for people that want to purchase merchandise, but cannot pay in full immediately. Be sure you understand the terms and are not charged fees or interest. And be careful – the payments may be deferred, but you will still have to pay them.
About Citizens Bank

Citizens Bank is a division of RBS Citizens, N.A., operating its seven-state branch network in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont. It has 82 branches and 150 ATMs in Rhode Island.

RBS Citizens, N.A. is a subsidiary of Citizens Financial Group, Inc., a $151 billion commercial bank holding company headquartered in Providence, R.I. CFG’s two bank subsidiaries are RBS Citizens, N.A. and Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania. They operate a 12-state branch network under the Citizens Bank brand in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont, and the Charter One brand in Illinois, Michigan and Ohio. CFG has non-branch retail and commercial offices in about 40 states. CFG is owned by RBS (The Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc).