It’s the most wonderful time of year, unless you’re one of the 48% of consumers who dread the price of holiday shopping.
A new survey from Lending Tree has found that nearly half of consumers are more afraid of the holidays than happy over the expected costs to rejoice this year – especially as many Americans are still grappling with the fallout. financial aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
And the pressure to give gifts is high, with 40% of respondents feeling pressured to buy a gift for at least one person.
In fact, stress levels are so high that almost a quarter of those polled said they were losing sleep over how they would pay for the holiday season gifts and festivities. And that number climbs to 36% of parents of children under the age of 18.
Worse yet, with holiday shopping going full steam ahead, 13% of consumers are still paying off the debt they racked up during the 2020 holiday season. And 41% expect to go into debt for holiday spending this year. year.
It could be because people are trying to make the holidays even brighter in the two rather gloomy years.
Also: Supply chain issues are forcing shoppers to stockpile gifts just in case, data shows
“A lot of people are willing to go a little too far on big occasions to make up for how lousy the past year and a half has been,” Matt Schulz, chief industry analyst at Lending Tree, told MarketWatch.
“And when you consider how expensive the holiday shopping season is anyway, the idea that people are going too far to feel a little better is scary,” he said. “Then you factor in inflation, and that makes it an even scarier proposition for a lot of consumers.”
And this inflation should last at least until the end of the year.
Read more: Americans will have to get used to high inflation at least until the end of 2021
But Schulz has a few tips to avoid taking on even more debt this holiday season.
The best thing you can do to avoid getting into debt is to set a vacation budget and stick to it, he said. It might seem obvious, of course, but it’s still crucial.
And impulse buying can really get you in trouble and blow your budget, so “think twice before you go shopping, [and] get a feel for what you’re looking to buy, ”Schulz said. In other words, make a list, double-check it, and stick to it.
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Another tip, which may seem counterintuitive, is to open a new credit card for your vacation spending, Schulz said.
“The truth is, a lot of cards come with signup bonuses of $ 100 or more,” he said. “And if you use them wisely and pay off that balance at the end of each month, that extra $ 100, $ 250 can really take a toll on your vacation budget.”
Of course, you can always get creative with your gifts to save dough. Homemade gifts, or cheap sentimental items, can be more memorable than the latest tech gadget it seems “everyone” is getting, after all.
Finally, communication is essential. Let your family and loved ones know if your money will be a little bit tight this year, Schulz said.
“We’ve all been through the past two years. We all know things have been tough, ”he said.
“Chances are, you will feel a little uncomfortable having this conversation,” he added. “But there is a good chance that your friends [and] it will not disturb your family members. They will understand, even your children, if you are open and honest with them about what is going on.