NEW YORK — On Christmas Eve, millions of children all over the world find it near impossible to fall sleep as they eagerly anticipate what Santa will bring come morning. But, according to a new survey of 2,000 U.S. parents, kids aren’t the only ones dealing with insomnia over the holidays: 71% of respondents say they usually lose sleep over all the money they’ve spent on gifts for their children.
The research, commissioned by Self, surveyed participants on their holiday spending habits and subsequent financial concerns. Unfortunately, the survey’s results paint a picture of millions of parents doing whatever it takes to ensure their children have a happy holiday, even when it means spending far beyond what their accountants would recommend. In all, 46% surveyed parents have neglected to buy themselves or their spouse a gift in order to make sure their kids get everything on their wish list.
Furthermore, 59% flat out admitted that they overspend on their children every holiday season. So, what is driving parents to spend their way into debt for each year’s latest toy? A major driving factor appears to perception from other children. A significant 71% of parents say they spend a lot on their kids because they can’t stand the thought of their child being the only student at school without the latest gadget or accessory.
The lengths that some parents are willing to go to in order to meet their children’s’ and other loved ones’ hopes may surprise you. For example, 61% are willing to damage their credit score. Now, that doesn’t mean most parents aren’t aware of what their doing; 39% say they feel “extremely concerned” about their holiday spending.
The average survey respondent will overspend by $541.79 this year, and spend the next 4.3 months paying off all that debt. To that end, 48% say they plan on living lean and cutting back after the holidays in order to save up some money.
“Around the holidays there’s a lot of pressure to please everyone – your friends, partner, family, kids, whoever – and be extra generous,” says James Garvey, CEO of Self. “Unfortunately, people often equate generosity with spending a lot of money. That can leave you in a tight financial spot for months to come if you don’t prepare for it ahead of time.”
The survey also revealed that it’s quite easy to get caught up in the rush of the holidays and quickly lose track of just how much you’re spending. In all, 53% say they often underestimate how much they spent on holiday food shopping for family feasts. Remarkably, 48% thought they kept their spending under control last year, and were shocked when they checked their bank statement. Other areas in which respondents frequently underestimate how much they’ve spent include entertainment (43%), decorations (41%), and clothing (38%).
Respondents also explained a few tricks for keeping holiday budgets in check, including taking on extra shifts at work (33%), getting a second job (31%), starting a side hustle (29%), and cutting back on electricity and heat use (29%). Meanwhile, 49% say they save money by purchasing gifts months before the holidays and spreading out their spending. Another 45% look for gifts that are on sale, and 44% regularly clip coupons.
The survey was conducted by OnePoll.