The holidays are referred to as the “most wonderful time of the year.” But in reality, it’s the most stressful for many. Why? Between purchasing gifts, seeing people you normally don’t, and every other obligation that comes with the holidays, it’s quite a nerve-racking experience.
For starters: consider holiday spending. In 2017, financial solutions company Principal reported the top 5 financial blunders of the winter holidays. Check out some of the financial problems Americans run into:
- Not saving enough: 17 percent
- Accumulating credit card debt: 11 percent
- Taking on more debt: 10 percent
- Spending outside of their means: 8 percent
- Not budgeting properly: 8 percent
Speaking of not budgeting properly, here’s what Principal reported in their study to be the top 5 holiday budget busters:
- Dining out: 26 percent
- Food/groceries: 21 percent
- Travel: 20 percent
- Clothing and shoes: 17 percent
- Entertainment: 16 percent
[For help keeping your finances in order during the shopping season, check out How to Make a Holiday Budget.]
Here’s some other unexpected stress from the holidays…
Holiday stress at work
Some workers won’t get time off this holiday season. Luckily, workers will get compensated for their time through double pay, time-and-a-half, or comp time. Holidays are stressful, especially when it comes to working. Some states have more holiday stress than others, though.
According to a survey from Accountemps and Robert Half, the people of Pittsburgh are the most stressed out during the holidays.
Managing holiday stress at work
Robert Half says there are a few different ways for companies to lower stress among workers, like:
- Write now, do later: Make your to-do list for the next day before you leave work. That way you have your priorities ready to tackle right away.
- Ask for help: You can’t do everything on your own, and it’s OK to ask for assistance.
- Timeout: If you are able to, take personal time off and make sure you aren’t checking email when you’re away. Give yourself time, whether to catch up on shopping or family, that doesn’t involve work.
- Remember the basics: Eat, exercise, and catch up on sleep. Plan your breaks and make sure to step away from your computer, desk, and office. Take a walk around outside, if you can. When you eat your lunch, step away from devices.
“Between professional responsibilities and personal commitments, it’s all too easy for employees to become overwhelmed during the holiday season,” says Accountemps executive Michael Steinitz. “Managers can support their teams by allowing more flexible schedules and bringing in temporary staff to assist with year-end projects.”
Bloomberg BNA says that companies are also celebrating their employees with year-end holiday parties and bonuses. While 30 percent of employees will get bonuses, at least 10 percent will get gifts, but it can get uncomfortable, as some supervisors have played favorites with what they give employees. Those who are liked better than others tend to get much more expensive gifts than their unlikable peers.
But sometimes employees are way off base with their gift-giving to their colleagues. There have been super weird gifts in office exchanges, like coconut bras and toilet paper that looks like money. The good news is that traditional gifts, like candy and gift cards, are the majority of presents that are shared among co-workers.
Unfortunately, uncomfortable feelings in the office don’t end with gifts. Three-in-four companies will host parties and the same amount will be pouring alcohol. And with alcohol comes employees who embarrass themselves (and their bosses). But it’s not just employees who are embarrassing themselves; supervisors are also making the company look bad during holiday parties.
Regrets revealed: Americans share their biggest financial setbacks this season
While we might be trying to be smarter with our money, it’s probably because we’ve made some bad financial decisions this year. The same Principal survey says that the biggest money mistakes we made this year were not saving enough (17 percent said this was their top issue), racking up more credit card debt (11 percent), and accumulating more debt overall (10 percent). Food accounted for the biggest “budget-busters”: 26 percent of Americans say dining out was the culprit, while groceries was another 21 percent.
Like Principal says, credit card debt is among one of the biggest money woes Americans faced this year. A survey from TD Ameritrade backs up that figure, noting that 8 percent of Americans say going into credit card debt was their number 1 financial stressor this year. Almost 20 percent of Americans say overspending on gifts was their top source of stress.
TD Ameritrade also says that the top three financial regrets of the year are:
- Spending beyond their means (7 percent)
- Not saving for retirement (7 percent)
- Going into credit card debt (6 percent)
The good news is that nearly half of those surveyed — 46 percent — are making financial resolutions to boost their retirement savings next year, which we know need all the help they can get.
Holiday budgeting doesn’t have to be so stressful. Check out Debt.com’s money management solutions page for tips on budgeting.
Buckle up: we’re hitting the road this holiday season
Wherever you’re going this year, you’re getting there by driving.
Nearly 100 million people will travel somewhere this holiday season, Generali Global Assistance says. The travel insurance company notes that 40 percent of Americans will stay within 100 miles of home. Millennials are the biggest age group that’s traveling this year (48 percent).
Hankook Tire says 84 percent of Americans that are traveling this year are hitting the roads, not the skies. While cheaper for families — who is going to drag their entire brood on a plane? — car maintenance is still a priority. Almost half of those surveyed by Hankook say they would like new tires as gifts this year.
Tech gifts = tech support
If you’re planning on giving the gift of a tech gift this year, first of all: that’s so thoughtful of you! Secondly, be sure to carve out time in your schedule to show your loved one how that gift actually works.
Technology solutions company Asurion says 60 percent of adults are giving techie gifts this year, and 70 percent say they’ve helped friends and family as their personal IT department in the past. It’s higher among millennials and Gen Xers.
“Remember the days when getting your holiday gifts up and running meant putting in some batteries?” says Barry Vandevier, Asurion president of operations. “Today it’s rarely that simple. Tech gifts can become a burden for people who struggle to set them up, connect them to other devices, and keep them running smoothly.”
While phones and laptops require a lot of help, home assistants, like Google Home and Amazon Echo, are becoming more popular to gift. They sound like a great present, but if the recipient isn’t familiar with how to work it, the gifter is now the installer and teacher of how to use these new and fancy devices.
New season, new attractions
And no, we don’t mean theme park attractions. We mean physical attractions. A Braun study found that when the season changes, so does facial hair. The men’s grooming company polled women and found that 41 percent of them had men in their lives that completely changed their facial hair during the holiday season. More than one-third of dudes grow out full beards.
The study notes that nearly half of all women find messy facial hair the most unattractive physical attribute on potential partners.
And partners change just like the season does. Just as men are more likely to grow out a beard, they’re also more likely to be attracted to a plus-size woman. Dating app WooPlus says there’s a 30 percent surge in male subscribers in November, proving that “winter dating” is a thing.
“Seasonal Dating Disorder seems to be another obstacle plus-sized ladies must deal with in today’s relationship environment,” says WooPlus co-founder Michelle Li. “Sadly, at this festive time of year, we feel it necessary to put out a warning.”
The app is designated for plus-size singles to feel comfortable about finding potential partners, and Seasonal Dating Disorder can hurt these matches. SDD is when relationships start during the colder months, only to end when Spring arrives. It disproportionately affects women more than men.
WooPlus warns women to be cautious of starting relationships during the holiday season and winter months, as it can lead to a painful ending.
Cameren Boatner contributed to this report.
Updated on: January 17th, 2021