Many people can’t afford to celebrate weddings, birthdays and more without going into debt.

3 minute read

Does the pressure to spend hundreds (or thousands) of dollars to attend a close friend’s destination wedding make you want to speak up now or forever hold your peace? If you’re feeling pressured to spend big bucks to celebrate weddings, birthdays, retirement parties and other celebrations, you’re not alone.

Around 39 million Americans feel pressured to overspend on celebrations like weddings and other happy events, according to a recent Bankrate survey.

Now that people are relaxing about COVID, postponed weddings have new dates. People are more willing to gather in large crowds, too. That means you can expect more invitations to celebratory events you may not be able to afford.

Meanwhile, economic uncertainty may cause reluctance among many Americans when it comes to attending and spending money on celebrations, according to Bankrate.

Attendance down from 2021

You’d think now that millions of Americans are vaccinated against COVID-19, more people would be eager to mingle with others at weddings and other celebratory events. But the number of people who attended celebrations in 2021 was slightly higher than the number who attended or plan to attend in 2022, according to the Bankrate survey.

For its survey, Bankrate asked respondents if they attended one of the following celebrations in 2021 or 2022:

  • Birthday
  • Wedding
  • Anniversary party
  • Retirement party
  • Graduation
  • Religious ceremony
  • Baby shower
  • Bridal shower
  • Bachelor/bachelorette party

Overall, 65 percent of respondents said they attended at least one of those celebrations in 2021. But only 61 percent attended or plan to attend one in 2022.

Here’s what the survey found when breaking down celebratory event attendance by generation:

Gen Z (age 18 to 25)

  • 2021: 76 percent
  • 2022: 67 percent

Millennials (age 26 to 41)

  • 2021: 70 percent
  • 2022: 64 percent

Gen X (age 42 to 57)

  • 2021: 59 percent
  • 2022: 56 percent

Baby Boomers (age 58 to 76)

  • 2021: 59 percent
  • 2022: 60 percent

When it comes to weddings, Gen Zers and millennials were most likely to attend, 36 percent and 30 percent, respectively. Gen Xers (19 percent) and Baby Boomers (15 percent) weren’t as quick to hop on a plane, hit the road or glide onto the reception dance floor.

5 tips for not overspending on celebratory events

No matter how much you love your friend, family member or coworker, it’s not worth racking up a bunch of credit card debt to show you care. If you can’t afford expensive travel, wedding, birthday, anniversary or other gifts, you can still wish someone the best without overspending.

Here are some tips for not overspending on celebrations.

Find out: Where to Find the Cheapest Greeting Cards

1. Be honest

It’s hard to admit that spending money you don’t have will put you in a financial bind. But if that’s the case, just be direct. Let your friend or family member know that you can’t afford to travel to Hawaii for their wedding right now but that you wish them well. Then shop for an affordable gift and/or take the couple out to dinner after they return from their honeymoon.

2. Shop for sale items

When buying a birthday, wedding, bridal or baby shower or other gift, don’t be discouraged by high prices. Instead, shop around, looking for quality items on sale. You’ll be surprised at the discounts and bargains you can find if you put in a little search time.

3. Use credit card rewards

Have you been racking up credit card cash back and airline points or miles? If so, you may be able to swing that airfare after all by redeeming what you’ve earned. Maybe you can redeem points for gift cards to give as birthday, anniversary and graduation gifts.

4. Come up with a savings plan

If you have events to celebrate later this year, maybe it’s not too late to scrounge up enough money to toast to the happiness of others. Create a monthly budget where you allot a portion of each paycheck towards travel expenses and/or gifts. That way, you can splurge a bit and have spending cash on hand to party with other celebrants.

5. Get a side hustle

If you want to attend a wedding or other pricey event, take a temporary side gig to earn several hundred dollars or more in just a month or two. You may enjoy that extra cash so much that you keep the side hustle going for a while so you can build savings for next year’s celebrations.

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About the Author

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp is a full-time freelance writer based in Kansas City, Mo. Deb went from being unable to get approved for a credit card or loan 20 years ago to having excellent credit today and becoming a homeowner. Deb learned her lessons about money the hard way. Now she wants to share them to help you pay down debt, fix your credit and quit being broke all the time. Deb's personal finance and credit articles have been published at Credit Karma and The Huffington Post.

Published by Debt.com, LLC