According to the SunTrust (NYSE: STI) 2019 nationwide holiday survey, more than half of Americans (56%) felt pressured to overspend during the holiday season last year. Will history repeat itself? This year, Americans plan to spend a median of $400, similar to 2018.
“Reducing holiday-spending pressure starts with being honest: with your budget, with your family and friends and with yourself,” said Brian Nelson Ford, financial well-being executive at SunTrust. “We know that Americans with high financial confidence are most likely to enjoy the holiday season, and that’s why it’s important to set expectations on spending limits and have honest conversations with family and friends. ‘Real talk’ about gift exchanges, events, and travel plans will help build financial confidence so you can truly enjoy the holiday season.”
From wrapping picture-perfect presents to making an appearance at every festive gathering, the majority of Americans reported feeling pressure during the last holiday season from both established expectations and unplanned activities. Of those who felt pressure to overspend, gifts were the largest source of pressure felt by 66% of people, followed by food and beverage (29%), travel (18%), outfits for social obligations (16%) and holiday home decorations (14%).
Sources of pressure during the holidays are not just driven by the things we may enjoy but also are created by activities and moments that we do not find particularly important or valuable. Not everyone’s idea of “good tidings” entails cookie swaps or a shopping frenzy on Black Friday. Many Americans prefer fewer, smaller celebrations. In fact, 37% of Americans think the best holiday would be spent at home with immediate family, while another 26% would like no holiday obligations at all.
This season, many Americans will be thinking about how they can spread goodwill and give back to the community. On average, Americans plan to donate $241 to charity and volunteer for 15 hours this holiday season.
Having the financial confidence to live your #bestlife becomes even more rewarding when it is about helping someone else live theirs. Creating moments for #bestlifegiving for others can come in many forms – from paying it forward to volunteering your time.
Herald the holidays on your own terms to live and give your #bestlife with tips from SunTrust’s Brian Ford:
- Hold Real Talk Conversations with Loved Ones: Remember that others are feeling the same pressure to spend, so set clear expectations with your friends and family about how you will be spending the holidays. Be honest about your spending expectations on gifts, but also carefully consider how you will be spending your time and communicate that well in advance.
- Get Creative with Your Holiday Wish List: Know what’s most important to you this holiday season, whether that’s hosting a holiday gathering or simply spending time with family. Allocate your time and budget to what matters most and be sure to voice your “wish list” to family and friends.
- Focus on the Memories: Rather than spending on presents, use the cash for spending quality time with family and friends. These experiences will allow you and your loved ones to create priceless memories that can last a lifetime.
- The Gift of Giving: Instead of spending money on gifts your family may not need, consider giving it to a cause you care about. You can even make it an annual holiday tradition. You also don’t have to donate money to give back – put the money you would’ve spent on gifts in savings, and spend time helping others at a nursing home, animal shelter or whatever cause your family values.
Reduce the pressure to overspend, and give yourself the gift of financial confidence so that you can live your #bestlife this holiday season and beyond.
The SunTrust National Financial Confidence Index Poll, the source of the findings cited above, is fielded quarterly and representative of the U.S. adult population with 2,500 participating Americans of different ages, incomes and geographic regions. Statistics referenced in this release are from the poll fielded in Q3 2019.