Holiday Spending: Why We Spend So MuchDo you remember the holiday season as a child? There was simplicity to it, not worrying about anything and especially not spending any money. This time of year tends to sit differently with adults. Many of us are overwhelmed and bombarded with overloaded to-do lists and the stressors of spending money looms over us way past the season into the New Year.


A poll conducted by Gallup in 2013 shows that the average American will spend the following:

  • Women ages 15-30 spend on average $214.67 for a per person gift
  • Women ages 31-57 spend on average $203.36
  • Men ages 15-30 spend on average $296.45
  • Men ages 31-57 spend the most, averaging $332.11
  • Grandparents spend approximately $289.50


Is spending too much during the holidays avoidable? Going into the holiday season with a plan, not only helps you stay on track, but will send you debt free into the New Year. While you may say, “Christmas only comes once a year!” think about the reasons you spend so much. Is it because you want to, or need to?


Here are 7 Ways You Might Find Yourself Overspending...


Holiday Sales

They seem too good to be true, don’t they? Although Black Friday and Cyber Monday have passed, pre-holiday sales are in full blast. Retailers know that shoppers need to shop, so a secret marketing trick is to get you into the store looking for that one sale item, and leave the store with much more. Reason being, there are very limited quantities – therefore if you can’t find it, you are more likely to impulse shop. So be prepared, either stick to shopping online where you can see and control your shopping cart, or write down what you need and stick to your budget. My rule of thumb for holiday shopping is that is must be on sale to be purchased.



You may feel guilty for spending more on those friends and family you don’t see often. How  about competing with someone to ensure you gave the best gift? That is shopping for the wrong reason, and not good for your wallet. A thoughtful gift is better appreciated than one with a hefty price tag.


Parent Pressure

We’ve all experienced at some point - the pressure of holiday ads, commercials and shiny window displays at the mall. Your adorable child exclaims that they will absolutely die without that new toy or gadget. As a parent during the holiday season, we just have to ensure the top gifts from their wish lists are under the tree Christmas morning. If you know your children only want something because of the hype, don’t waste your money. If you have older children, gift cards and cash is a way they can save to buy what they want. They will most likely not want to spend so much if it isn’t something they truly need.


Online Shopping

While shopping online can help some save, it is also too convenient and easy to go overboard. Today you can shop at the click of a button from your computer or phone, have your items delivered quickly, and just like that you end up with 10 boxes at your doorstep and a maxed out credit card bill. If you need to shop online, get in the habit of not saving your credit card information, this will help you think twice about your purchases. Also make sure you are utilizing the filter option, which lets you sort products by price. Always set it to start with the lowest price.


Glitter and Glam

The holiday season is so beautiful. Snow covered parking lots, glittery red and green tinsel hanging at your favorite retail store and music blaring jolly tunes. No wonder we overspend! That would put any one in the mood to shop. Remember that displays are created to look appealing and make you spend more. If you keep that in mind, maybe you will think twice before spending money on something you don’t need.


Overspending on Food

The season of huge dinners with all the trimmings, we waste so much money on food! In the United States alone, 30-40% of the food supply is wasted, equaling more than 20 pounds of food per person per month. Instead of shopping with the mentality of “enough for leftovers” plan on how many people will eat, be realistic and always freeze or re-use leftovers. Planning a holiday get together? You can save on that too, read more here.


Holiday Charity Guilt

Part of your holiday budget should include charity, but it isn’t easy to say no when charities have their ads tugging at our heartstrings this time of year. We want to help everyone, but realistically we can’t. Give what you can, as long as it is part of your already created budget.


Don’t end the year spending too much and starting the New Year in debt. Sticking to your budget will take effort, but you will surely be glad you did in the end.


How you have you stayed on budget this holiday season? Share your advice below.


About the blogger:
Angela Caban is an Army National Guard spouse, freelance writer, published author and branding expert. Her husband was one of the many soldiers impacted by the unprecedented activation of the National Guard in 2008. In 2010, she founded the Homefront United Network, a military spouse and family support blog created to assist spouses who do not live near an installation, but also focusing on bridging the gap between National Guard, Reserve and Active Duty spouses. She is also co-founder of SpouseTalks. As a branding and digital influencer, she has created content for A&E, Lifetime Network and PBS. She has an extensive background in Human Resources and Communications, with her Bachelor’s in Business Administration and a Master’s in Human Resources. Angela resides in the beautiful Garden State of New Jersey with her husband of 11 years and two children.


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