Under the Hat: A January Hangover - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather, Events

Under the Hat: A January Hangover

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As a member of the media I'm told on a fairly regular basis how we always look at the half empty part of the glass.

This may not change that much.

 People go to school for years to learn the tiniest details of the American financial machine but for me it comes down to two words: consumer confidence.

If we believe in ourselves enough to spend our money and invest in the stock market the economy grows and companies feel better about expanding into new ventures and product lines.

That may not be all of it but it's a lot of it.

First the good news:

Despite the sluggish economy the Black Friday weekend set a record for sales as some 226 million of us spent about 52 billion dollars.

For some that's a clear indication that the economic storm clouds of the past few years are clearing and people are feeling better about themselves.

The reporter in me says "Not so fast."

This year Black Friday started so early it was Thursday and retailers shrewdly targeted key consumer electronics for deep discounts.

The combination of the early start and "door buster" sales had as much to do with the spending surge as anything else, and might in the end simply pull in those holiday dollars sooner as opposed to increasing overall totals.

We are still in no position to be spending beyond our means.

Don't forget that what got us into trouble in the first place is debt, a useful tool for starting a business or buying a house but dangerous in big spoonfuls.

We should be on guard so that the frustrations of several years of belt tightening don't spill over into a financial January hangover when the bills start to arrive.

So there you have it; on the heels of one of the biggest holiday sales weekends ever I sit here talking about caution and restraint.

Maybe there is something to what they say about reporters after all.

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