More Women Than Men Fall into Debt to Pay for Holiday Expenses, New Survey Finds

Do you have a budget to pay for the holidays?

According to the results of a new GOBankingRates survey, 10 percent of respondents said they would fall into debt or take out a loan in order to celebrate the holidays. More unsettling is the fact that 27 percent of all respondents said they have fallen into debt to pay for their holiday expenses in the past. The average amount of debt all respondents have racked up to pay for holiday expenses was $1,141. The same survey also revealed that nearly half of Americans don’t make any financial preparations for holiday expenses.

Holiday Shopping Debt by Age

When comparing holiday debt by age, the results reveal a mix of consistency and extremes. For example, four age groups — 25 to 34 year-olds, millennials; 35 to 44 year-olds, younger Gen Xers; 45 to 54 year-olds, older Gen Xers; 55 to 64 year-olds, younger baby boomers — had debt levels ranging between $1,069 and $1,636, a range close to the average level of debt — $1,141.

The youngest respondents and oldest respondents were different: Americans aged 18 to 24 incurred an average debt of $360, the lowest amount by far. Respondents aged 65 and older incurred an average debt of $2,849, easily the highest amount.

The order of holiday debt from the most to least by age group goes as follows:

  • No. 1: 65 and over
  • No. 2: 45- to 54-to-year-olds
  • No. 3: 25- to 34-to-year-olds
  • No. 4: 35- to 44-to-year-olds
  • No. 5: 55- to 64-to-year-olds
  • No. 6: 18- to 24-to-year-olds

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Holiday Shopping Debt Breakdown

When it comes to comparing holiday debt by gender, male respondents incurred more than double the debt of their female counterparts. In past surveys, female respondents reported that they racked up an average holiday debt of $808. Although it was a lower amount than male respondents, a greater percentage of female respondents reported falling into debt — 31 percent vs. 24 percent.

Here’s a closer look at holiday shopping debt broken down by age and gender.

Age GroupAverage Amount of DebtPercentage That Has Fallen into Debt in the Past
Ages 18-24$36010%
Ages 25-34$1,19422%
Ages 35-44$1,10738%
Ages 45-54$1,63640%
Ages 55-64$1,06937%
Ages 65 and Over$2,84934%
Females$80831%
Males$1,64824%
Overall$1,14127%

Earn some money back — learn how you can make money off your holiday shopping.

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Methodology: The GOBankingRates survey posed the following questions to 2,000 Americans: 1) “How do you financially prepare for the holiday season?”; 2) “What are you most dreading when the holiday season hits?”; 3) “How much do you plan to spend/what is your budget for holiday shopping this year?”; 4) “Have you ever fallen into debt to pay for your holiday expenses in the past?”; 5) “In the past, how much debt have you racked up in order to pay for your holiday expenses?”; 6) “What would you do or sacrifice in order to celebrate the holidays this year?”