As we venture into the holiday shopping season, inflation still holds a firm grip on the U.S. economy. An already stressful time is shaping up to be even more so this year as Americans try to figure out how to afford their gifts and celebrations. The holidays are incredibly stressful for many Americans as they juggle family time, finances, and mental health.
To see how Americans feel about the impending holiday season and its obligations, a recent survey of more than 1,000 Americans provides insight into topics related to holiday stress, such as their ability to set boundaries and say no to things they don’t want to do or can’t afford.
Nearly Two-Thirds of People Experience Stress Around the Holiday Season
The top reason for holiday stress is the cost of paying for gifts, with nearly two-thirds (64%) admitting to feeling stress during the holidays. More than 1 in 2 (52%) Americans worry about how much they spend during the holiday season. Currently, finances are at the top of mind for many, with inflation and a potential recession on the horizon.
Other reasons for holiday stress include spending time with family, seasonal depression, not having enough time for self-care, and spending time with friends. Surprisingly, the most common people who struggle with saying “no” to are our friends! More than 1 in 3 (35%) said they have difficulty turning friends down.
“Greg Wilson, a Chartered Financial Analyst with a background in psychology, says the best gift you can give is to yourself. “If the expenses of the gift-giving season are weighing you down, just let it go. The people you give gifts to are people that care about you. Have a conversation with them to set gift expectations. This is especially true with your spouse, since you are in the same financial boat. What may really surprise you is the people you talk to may be relieved when you suggest you lower your gift buying budget.” Greg and his wife Erin own ChaChingQueen, a site offering tips to live a happy and healthy life on a budget.
More Than Half of People Have Trouble Setting Boundaries
One of the significant contributors to stress around the holidays is not setting boundaries. Setting boundaries may include setting a firm budget for gift-giving or saying no to a few holiday parties. Without boundaries, we can find it difficult to say no to commitments or buy gifts we cannot afford. More than half (58%) of people have trouble setting boundaries around the holidays, which can increase stress.
Andrew Herrig, the founder of Wealthy Nickel, says, “The first step in setting healthy boundaries is to evaluate your budget and determine how much you can spend on Christmas gifts. If you have always overspent in the past, it can be difficult to set a limit going forward, but having a conversation with family and friends to set expectations can go a long way toward reducing financial stress. You might be surprised how understanding others are of holiday budget constraints.”
Women Are More Likely to Feel Stressed Than Men
Not surprisingly, women are more likely to feel stress around the holidays than men. 74% of women versus 53% of men admitted to getting stressed around Thanksgiving and Christmas. 62% of women surveyed admitted to struggling with financial stress around the holidays, compared to 42% of men.
According to an APA study, “Though there are not attitudinal differences between men and women in their sense of obligation towards family, there are strong behavioral differences between men and women. Women are much more likely to shoulder the work burden during family celebrations. During Thanksgiving, women are nearly twice as likely to report that they will cook (66 percent of women versus 35 percent of men), shop for food (52 percent of women versus 32 percent of men), and clean dirty dishes (70 percent of women versus 41 percent of men). Men, on the other hand, are nearly twice as likely as women to report that they will watch football (26 percent of women versus 46 percent of men).”
Tip to Reduce Stress During the Holidays
Mark is the founder of Financial Pilgrimage, a blog dedicated to helping young families pay down debt and live financially free. Mark has a Bachelor’s degree in financial management and a Master’s degree in economics and finance. He is a husband of one and father of two and calls St. Louis, MO, home. He also loves playing in old man baseball leagues, working out, and being anywhere near the water. Mark has been featured in Yahoo! Finance, NerdWallet, and the Plutus Awards Showcase.