Fighting The Urge to Splurge

The failure to save is catching up with U.S. consumers

December is usually no time for second thoughts about shopping. This is the merry month of mall hopping, a season of spending all the money that has been larded away -- and then some. But wait: this may not be Christmas as usual. America's jingle-jangle shopping spree seems muffled so far this year. As customers browse among the cashmere sweaters and compact-disc players, many are having doubts not only about this month's expenditures but also about their whole philosophy of buy, buy, buy. The October stock-market crash and the likelihood of an economic slowdown next year have rekindled the feeling that...

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