SAN DIEGO – Ideas on how to head off holiday debt and avoid the financial stresses of the Christmas season were offered to television viewers here by an official at First Future Credit Union. Jim Goulet, executive vice president of the $590 million First Future – formed earlier this year in the merger of Santel Federal Credit Union and Kearny Mesa Financial Credit Union – discussed ways to financially cope this holiday season. His advice came as people were heading to the malls and shopping centers to do their holiday shopping amid a slowing economy and job layoffs nationwide. The nation's retailers said in early December that the all-important holiday shopping season had gotten off to a disappointing start with sales below expectations. Some analysts predicted that the bulk of holiday shopping would take place the week before Christmas. "Be the BOSS of holiday debt," Goulet advised viewers on two different TV stations. Goulet, who also serves as president of First Future Financial Services Credit Union Service Organization (CUSO), said that BOSS was an acronym for budget, organize, start early and stick to your plan. Goulet said he came up with the BOSS acronym because "I was looking for something that would be easy to remember." During the three- to four-minute TV interviews, he explained what each word meant. Budgeting, he said, involves determining how much people can afford to spend. "Plan your future," he advised. Consumers should also organize a list containing the who, what and how much for holiday shopping, he said. Included on that list should be meals and miscellaneous items, he recommended. Goulet also urged consumers to stick to their plan, to use their list and to track their spending. He also answered questions and offered advice on ways to manage finances and holiday debt. "There's no question that people spend more and incur more debt at this time of year," he said afterwards. He noted that his credit union usually ran a promotion in January to help members get their credit card debt under control. Among the promotions is a special five-year equity home loan. Goulet saw his appearance on the TV stations as not just a public relations coup for First Future but for all credit unions. He said credit union executives elsewhere should consider being interviewed by local TV stations to help consumers with financial advice as well as spreading the credit union message. Goulet appeared on both Channel 10, a local ABC affiliate, and Channel 8, the local CBS affiliate. The interview on Channel 10 was repeated throughout the day, giving the credit union some extra publicity, Goulet noted. "The interesting thing was the co-anchor who interviewed me was a member of our credit union," he noted. "She didn't realize it until we sat down for the interview (before going on air). But that didn't hurt." -

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