'Tis The Season for Spending

Six in 10 Americans Will Not Use Budget for Holiday Shopping

Date: November 22, 2011

Contact: Paul Golden 303-224-3514, [email protected]

DENVER—A new poll from the National Endowment for Financial Education finds many Americans have concern over how they will pay for their holiday expenses in this "bah humbug" economy.

According to an online survey commissioned by NEFE and conducted by Harris Interactive in November 2011, 49 percent of Americans are much/somewhat more concerned about being able to afford holiday expenses this season, compared to their level of confidence five years ago before the recession and economic downturn. As a result, 54 percent of those who have holiday expenses plan to spend less this year than they did five years ago.

Tips to Manage Spending This Holiday Season

  • NEFE offers these five tips to manage spending this holiday shopping season.  Read More

"Americans are facing a lot of challenges because of the duration of the current economic climate, so it's no surprise there is heightened concern over how much money people can spend on their loved ones," says Ted Beck, president and CEO of NEFE.

In a season that means "black" for many retailers, one red flag has risen among consumers. The NEFE survey finds 63 percent of Americans will not set or have a budget for their holiday shopping.

"It's concerning that the majority of shoppers this holiday season will not have a spending plan along with their shopping list," says Beck. "Having a gift budget really helps keep spending on track and prevents a situation where emotion takes over."

Among the numerous expenses associated with the holidays, 64 percent of Americans anticipate gifts to be their largest expenditure this year, with 60 percent planning to spend the most on family members. Top expenses for the remainder include: food/groceries for holiday meals (12 percent), travel (8 percent), entertainment/entertaining or holiday greeting cards (both 2 percent), gift wrap/decorating and other (both 1 percent). Ten percent anticipate not having any holiday-related expenses this year.

Of those who anticipate having holiday expenses this year, 67 percent of Americans plan to use cash. Forty-five percent anticipate paying by credit, with 32 percent paying the full balance within the first statement cycle and 13 percent not paying off the full balance within the first statement cycle. Seventeen percent expect to use savings, 7 percent will use layaway, 5 percent will rely on a holiday or year-end bonus, 3 percent plan on help from relatives or friends, 2 percent a short-term loan and 5 percent plan to pay by other means.

"One thing people should keep in mind this holiday season that will serve them well into the next year is that the greatest gift you can give your family is financial stability by not overspending," Beck says.

For tips, resources and information on holiday spending, visit www.smartaboutmoney.org.

Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of NEFE from November 10-14, 2011, among 2,810 adults age 18 and over. Data were weighted using propensity score weighting to be representative of the total U.S. adult population on the basis of region, age within gender, education, household income, race/ethnicity and propensity to be online. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, click here.



  • Paul Golden

    Media Relations Director

    Direct: 303-224-3514
    Cell: 303-918-3620
    [email protected]