How Does Your Christmas Spending Rank?

Group of elegant young people exchanging gifts and smiling cheerfully during Christmas party, copy space.
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The holidays are coming with a big price tag this year. According to a new Gallup poll, Americans are “planning to spend generously” in 2022, even as inflation still impacts American household budgets. So where does your spending rank?

If you’re estimating that you’ll spend about $900 or so for all the gifts on your list, you’re around the average. According to the Gallup poll, conducted in October, adults that were surveyed noted they were going to spend about $932 on gifts this year.

That’s up from the $837 average last year and closer to the $942 total cost that Gallup reported in 2019 — prior to the pandemic — which was the highest figure seen since the poll began in 2006.

Nostalgia and Tradition Driving Holiday Spending This Year

There’s a number of reasons why people are spending more this year. “Nostalgia and tradition” are a big part of it, as GOBankingRates reported in November after talking to experts about holiday shopping trends. The leftover FOMO from the COVID pause may also pose a factor. Social media pressure may also influence increased buying.

As well, the cost of gifts has hiked due to persistent inflation. As Forbes reported, “Nearly every popular holiday gift is more expensive this year than in 2021.” That includes jewelry (up 31% in cost), electronics (up 11%) and toys (up 10.5%).

If $932 isn’t in your budget, there’s no reason to feel like a bad Santa. As the Gallup poll indicated, plenty of people are falling outside of that national average. Of the people surveyed, 30% said they were planning to spend between $250 and $999 while 17% said they had a budget of under $250.

Make Your Money Work for You

And, if you’re looking for ways to save so you don’t go over any amount you’re comfortable spending on gifts, there are some good holiday helper tips:

Cut back on your gift list. Check your list twice to make sure everyone on it really needs a gift. Aunt Sue who you haven’t seen in 25 years might just be touched by a Christmas card, while parents love handmade keepsakes that cost little to create but are priceless. And if you have a big family, a Secret Santa plan might help everyone stay on budget by picking out a gift for just one person.

Shop online rather than going to stores. Doing so may help you keep more focused on your list and not go overboard. Why? Digital shopping lacks the aggressive in-store marketing and physical sales team that retailers often employ. Plus, shopping online lets you see your grand total in real-time — unlike a brick-and-mortar store where you might get a big sticker shock at the register.

Buy gift cards. Though it might seem less fancy than the latest iPhone, a gift card is a great way to show someone you care and not go overboard on the cost. You can set a fixed amount that keeps you on budget and you can pick out the card from a store you know your recipient loves.

Cut out the mailed holiday cards. It might just be some cardstock and an envelope but Christmas cards can really add up, especially if you have a long list, are adding in a family photo that requires a photo shoot or buying fancier brand-name cards. Most people recycle them at the end of the season anyway, and e-cards can be just as meaningful (and free in some cases, too!).

Make Your Money Work for You

Shop later in the season. Though everyone touts getting a leg up on holiday gifts with Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, sometimes waiting can pay off. With retailers competing for consumer dollars this year, they may get desperate if they haven’t hit benchmarks in mid-December and start offering last-minute deals.

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