Americans are spending hundreds of dollars more than they expect to during the holiday season

What good is a budget if we don’t stick to it?

Not good at all — and most of us don’t care, at least when it comes to our holiday shopping list. Half of Americans create a holiday budget, TD Bank says, but 76 percent of us have busted our budgets before.

So, what are we blowing our budgets on? Most Americans — 71 percent — say they spent more on a gift than they expected to. Another 57 percent say they bought gifts for people that weren’t on their original shopping list, and 41 percent note they spent money on gifts for themselves.

And it’s not just a little over budget. On average, Americans are spending $263 more than they expected to. These are the people — 83 percent — that say they plan to stick to a budget this year.

Creating a budget for anything — but especially holiday shopping — can be helpful to keep your spending on track and keep yourself from going (further?) into debt. But if you splurge (knowingly or not) it can kill your budget. And then your finances.

Most people in the TD Bank survey say they always make a budget. But what the survey didn’t discover is if they updated their spending habits and practices to help alleviate overspending.

Since most people don’t give themselves spending cushion, it explains why they spend more on a gift than they expected to. And if they didn’t update their gift-giving list, it would explain why they were buying for people that weren’t on the original list.

Unfortunately, bad math skills weren’t on this survey, but are known to keep us from ultimate savings over the holidays.

One person’s trash is another person’s re-gift

Despite constant overspending, Americans are doing really well at saving gifts they don’t like and passing them along to others, either through white elephant parties or regifting. More than half of those surveyed — 56 percent — admit to regifting in the past, and their judgment has steered them in the right direction, as 65 percent of those people say they’ve done it because they knew someone else would like it more. Forty percent say they regifted because they didn’t like the gift themselves.

Along with re-gifting, Americans are finding nonmonetary ways to give presents. Almost 60 percent of us are planning on making homemade foods and treats this year, while 36 percent will be making handcrafted gifts, ornaments, and cards. More than a quarter plan to give the gift of “time,” like cleaning, babysitting, and other tasks. This is all great, considering none of us really like giving gifts anyhow.

If you’ve got the cash (and you haven’t fully completed your holiday shopping like everyone else has), you might save more money by shopping online. Sure, overspending is just a click away, but nearly 40 percent of parents found that they tend to overspend when they visit stores in person, rather than online.

This is helpful since the TD Bank survey found that shopping for children is one of the easiest parts about shopping for the holidays. But it’s those pesky millennials that are keeping brick-and-mortar stores going: more than half of them were planning to shop in-store this season.

Meet the Author

Dori Zinn

Dori Zinn


Zinn is a freelance journalist based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Budgeting & Saving, Credit & Debt, Family

budgeting, gift giving, infographic, save money, winter holidays

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Article last modified on December 14, 2017 Published by, LLC . Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: We Overspend at the Holidays and Don't Stop - AMP.