The crowds… having enough money for gifts... picking presents that are "just" right for family, friends, and coworkers.
Yes, the holiday season is in full swing—and so is the anxiety that comes with it, according to a new survey from Experian.
Asked what emotions are related to holiday shopping, 43% of survey recipients said excitement. But about a third of all respondents also said they associated stress with holiday shopping and nearly two-thirds of Americans agreed that holiday shopping puts a strain on their finances. A whopping 58% said they end up spending too much money during the holiday season.
The group most likely to overspend? Americans aged 25 to 34; ironically, a cohort who are especially concerned with keeping their debt levels.
Other key findings from the survey of 1000 adults, which was conducted in late November.
- Half of all respondents said the reason for financial strain was that they didn't have enough money to spend on gifts.
- 45% said they didn't want to add to their debt with holiday purchases, a number that jumped to 54% among consumers aged 25 to 34.
- Part of the strain could be from not being able to stick to a budget, something 41% of respondents said they had difficulty with.
How to Manage Holiday Finances—and Your Stress
Jamie Hopkins, co-director of the Retirement Income Program at the American College of Financial Services, says that credit card debt is one of the biggest financial pitfalls of the holiday season—so avoid the temptation to charge all your holiday gifts.
"By accumulating credit card debt to afford those holiday presents, you'll often end up spending even more to pay it off—and your credit scores will take a hit in the process," he says.
Hopkins suggests trying alternative gifts, like making a contribution to a loved one's college savings plan rather than buying toys or other goods. He also recommends giving yourself the gift of a little extra cash in your savings or 401(k) accounts if you can.
Smart Ways to Limit Holiday Spending
What are some other tips for keeping spending down? Draw names of a group of friends or if you have a large family instead of taking on the challenge of getting gives for EVERYONE. If you're crafty, handy or a good cook, you can also make gifts for your loved ones.
You can also spend time volunteering together instead of gift giving, which will make you feel good, help the less fortunate, and give you "quality" time with your friends, family or coworkers.
And while the holiday season is already here this year, it's never too early to plan ahead for next year. If you spread out your spending over the coming year, your budget won't take one big hit at the holidays in 2018.
Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer or other company, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. All information, including rates and fees, are accurate as of the date of publication.
This article was originally published on December 14, 2017, and has been updated.