Holiday Spending Has Shoppers Stressed
The holiday season is supposed to be a happy one, but an Experian survey indicates that financial worries have many Americans stressing out about the debt they may accumulate. Consumers typically go into debt during the holidays because they fail to make budgets, and are unprepared to cover expenses for items other than gifts, including postage costs, greeting cards, hostess gifts and gift-wrapping supplies.
In fact, 62% of the respondents said their failure to create a budget was the main detractor from their holiday enjoyment. 56% said they feel as if they spend too much during the holidays, and 55% feel stressed about their finances during this season.
The study also discovered that consumers are suffering from these additional stressors:
- 48% said they generally spend more than expected
- 44% said they feel obligated to spend more than they can afford
- 43% feel stressed about the holidays because they do not have the extra money for gifts. This is an 8% increase over last year
Unexpected expenses add up, and respondents reported spending an average of $288 in the past on surprise holiday expenses. 28% spent more on these incidentals than they did on gifts. As a result, 31% of the respondents said they accrued debt on their credit card as a result of these unexpected costs.
“What consumers don’t realize is that after the merriment of the holidays they won’t be having such a happy new year, because they will be saddled with debt,” said Rod Griffin, director of Public Education at Experian. “With a little bit of planning, consumers can save themselves a lot of stress and put themselves in a better financial position in 2017.”
In an attempt to cut costs, consumers are performing some risky behaviors by buying goods from unknown or unsecure websites. Nearly one-fourth (23%) of the respondents said they would risk becoming an identity theft victim if they got a good Cyber Monday deal. Nearly half (46%) said they are not even worried about identity theft this holiday season–even though researchers have called the U.S. the “global hotspot” for online fraud during the holidays this year.
“Risking one’s identity for a good deal by purchasing from unsecured websites is obviously not a good idea,” added Griffin. “Unfortunately, the financial damage from identity theft will not make that deal worth it in the long run. With identity theft all too common during the holidays, consumers need to take precautions to protect their identities, such as checking their financial accounts and monitoring their credit report and credit score throughout the season.”
About Bill Hardekopf
Bill Hardekopf is the CEO of LowCards.com and covers the credit card industry from all perspectives. Bill has been involved with personal finance for over 15 years. He is a frequent contributor to Forbes, The Street and The Christian Science Monitor.