Consumers shop 'till they drop

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Retailers are reporting that consumers shopped more in May, and if you believe the experts, it's largely thanks to the economic stimulus checks that started showing up in May. Sales were stronger than expected, with the best numbers shown by discount retailers like Costco and Wal-Mart. Some of the spending is also believed to be related to "staycations" planned by consumers... Staying home instead of going on a costly vacation, and using some of that saved money for electronics or items related to home improvement.

Of course, the media is all about telling us how bad the economy is, no matter what happens. I'm no fan of rising food prices and increased fuel costs either, but there comes a point at which consumers just have to find a way to deal with it. Those who ran up their credit cards with frivolous purchases over the last few years will probably find it harder to tighten their belts since the credit card bills aren't going away.

The people who have been more budget-conscious over the last couple of years, likely are having an easer time dealing with the higher cost of necessities. But whichever group you fall into, I sure hope you're willing to be proactive in living within your means and saving a little money for the future. The economic climate is uncertain, and it's not a bad idea to keep playing it safe for the near future.

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.
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