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Holiday Spending Fills Almost Half of Consumers With Dread

Sarah Sharkey Updated: November 22, 2023 • 3 min read
putting gifts underneath the christmas tree

Key Points:

  • 48% of consumers are dreading the holiday season, specifically due to the costs associated with the holidays.

  • 13% of consumers are still paying off bills from last year’s holidays.

  • 41% of Americans say it’s at least somewhat likely they’ll incur holiday shopping debt this time of year.

Holiday Spending Fills Almost Half of Consumers With Dread: How to Avoid Money Stress This Holiday Season

The costs surrounding the holidays can add up quickly. And for many households, mounting holiday costs create a feeling of dread, which is the last feeling you want floating around your house during the holiday. If you are dreading the toll of holiday finance, a little bit of planning can go a long way.

We will explore how Americans feel about the upcoming holiday season and how you can navigate the season with minimal financial stress.

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Holiday Spending Fills Consumers With Dread

Managing stress during the holidays feels near impossible? You're not alone. A recent survey found that nearly half of consumers are dreading the holiday season. Specifically, 40% of Americans are dreading Christmas, and 13% are dreading Thanksgiving due to the associated costs. In addition to the 48% of Americans dreading upcoming holiday costs, 13% of consumers are still paying off holiday spending from last year.

Parents with children under 18 are most likely to feel the holiday financial stress, with 59% dreading the holiday season due to costs, 51% expected to incur holiday shopping debt this year, and 21% still paying off holiday spending from last year.

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The holiday season is supposed to be joyful. But if you are dreading the costs, it can be difficult to participate in the merry times. In fact, one in four consumers reported losing sleep worrying about how to pay for the holiday season.

Some of the stress-inducing holiday costs come in the form of gift-giving. 40% of consumers reported feeling stress and anxiety to buy gifts for someone. But Gen Zers and millennials were most likely to be feeling overwhelmed around gift giving.

How to Avoid Financial Stress Over the Holidays

Dealing with financial stress around the holidays might make you feel like more of a Grinch this season. A proactive approach to money management around the holidays could grant you some great holiday stress relief. Consider implementing some of the following strategies:

  • Be honest about your spending: It’s easy to get carried away with the holiday season. Instead of getting swept up in the spending of the season, be honest about what you can afford to spend.
  • Decide what part of the season matters most: If you can’t afford to do everything this holiday season, get clear on your priorities. For some, getting the best gifts for your family members is a top priority. Others might care more about traveling or hosting a lovely party for your friends and family. A clear priority can help you make the most of your spending.
  • Consider spending less: Holiday spending can get out of control quickly. But consider spending less this holiday season. You might cut back on travel costs, gifts, or hosting to make your budget work.
  • Commit to a budget: Determine how much you can afford to spend this holiday season and commit to staying within your budget boundaries.
  • Avoid credit card debt: As this holiday season rolls around, many Americans are still paying off last year’s holiday spending. Don’t get caught in the trap of credit card debt. If you can’t afford to pay for holiday spending in full, avoid making the purchase.
  • Look for deals: Retailers offer worthwhile sales on gift-worthy items during this season. Consider shopping the sales to save on your gift costs.
  • Tuck funds into a high-yield savings account: A high-yield savings account offers a safe place to stash your cash and watch it grow. Open a high-yield savings account to start saving for next year.

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The Bottom Line

The holidays are right around the corner. If you are dreading the coming season, don't forget to take some deep breaths and dig into your finances. It’s better to get clear about what you can afford during this season before you start spending.

As you prepare for the holidays, consider opening a high-yield savings account to put your savings to work. If you still have credit card debt hanging around from last year, consider using a debt consolidation loan to make steps toward repayment.

Written by Sarah Sharkey linkedin-icon

Sarah Sharkey is a personal finance writer with a Master's in Management from the Hough School of Business at the University of Florida. She enjoys helping people make better financial decisions and has written for numerous personal finance publications, including Money Under 30, Business Insider, and The College Investor. Sarah enjoys traveling, hiking, and reading when she is not writing.