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Bah! Humbug! Nearly 3 in 4 Americans Plan to Spend Less or the Same this Holiday Season

New survey reveals 52 percent of Americans are not doing any additional tasks, jobs or special savings throughout the year to afford holiday expenses.

December 12, 2018

BLOOMINGTON, Ill.  – When it comes to holiday spending, many Americans are planning to scale back on lavish purchases this year. In fact, 50 percent plan to spend the same amount as last year and more than 1 in 5 (22 percent) plan to spend less. Of those who plan to spend less, 34 percent cite other expenses are taking priority. 

The COUNTRY Financial Security Index® surveyed Americans just weeks before the holiday to see how financially secure they feel going into the busy shopping season. The results show that more Americans are cutting back while some (10 percent) don’t plan to spend any money at all on holiday gifts, entertainment, decorations, charitable donations or travel. However, only one quarter (23 percent) are saving throughout the year to afford holiday expenses.  

 “We all want to be generous during the holiday season, and to put a smile on the faces of our friends and family,” said Doyle Williams, Executive Vice President at COUNTRY Financial. “However, we shouldn’t let the magic of the season get us carried away into overspending and making financial decisions we will regret come January. Take simple steps to create a realistic holiday budget that accounts for all of those holiday expenses such as gifts, travel, decorations and entertaining. Then, start fresh in the new year with a savings plan to alleviate some of the financial burden in 2019.”  

Budgeting for the Holidays 

For those Americans who will be spending this holiday season, most have a specific budget (70 percent), while one in five (20 percent) say they don’t have a budget amount in mind. 

A significant number of Americans (39 percent) who have a budget plan to spend less than $250 or no more than $500. Only 17 percent of Americans plan to spend more than $1,000 during the holiday season.  

Budgeting and spending also vary by income and age. The older one is, the more likely they will spend more for the holidays. Those age 65 and older plan to spend the most ($1,129), while the youngest Americans, age 18-34 plan to spend about $585 during the holidays. Those with incomes of $75,000 and above also plan to spend about $1,082, while those with $50,000-$74,000 plan to spend $757 or less. 

Children Remain a Top Priority

Children are a major priority for Americans during the holiday season – even for those who are planning to spend less. In fact, Americans are planning to spend the most on their children this year (34 percent). 

Others who will be on the receiving end of this holiday spending include family members (19 percent), significant others (16 percent), grandchildren (13 percent), friends (3 percent) and pets (1 percent). Only 7 percent of Americans will spend the most on themselves. 

Women are more likely than men (41 percent to 27 percent) to say they will spend the most on their children this year, whereas men are more likely than women (22 percent to 11 percent) to say they will spend the most on their significant other. 

Going the Extra Mile to Afford Gifts vs. Giving Back

When asked what would take the most of their holiday budget, most Americans (70 percent) say their largest expenditure will be on gifts, followed by entertaining (9 percent), travel expenses for flights, hotel stays and gas for the car (8 percent). 

Interestingly, those age 18 to 34 are the most likely to plan and go the extra mile to afford expenses this holiday season. In fact, Millennials are the most likely to work more hours (25 percent), take on an additional job (9 percent), save throughout the year (31 percent), sell personal items (14 percent), and accept money from family and friends (8 percent). 

When it comes to giving back to those in need, 54 percent of Americans plan to give to charity this holiday season with 70 percent saying they give because of a personal passion, or because giving fills them with a sense of purpose in their lives. 


Media Contact

Carrie Skogsberg


About The COUNTRY Financial Security Index®

Since 2007, the COUNTRY Financial Security Index has measured Americans' sentiments of their personal financial security. The Index also delves deeper into individual personal finance topics to better inform Americans about the issues impacting their finances. Survey data, videos and analysis are available at and on Twitter at @helloCOUNTRY. 

The COUNTRY Financial Security Index was created by COUNTRY Financial and is compiled by Ipsos, an independent research firm. Surveys were conducted using Ipsos’ KnowledgePanel®, a national, probability-based panel designed to be representative of the general population and includes responses from approximately 1,006 U.S. adults for national surveys. The margin of sampling error for a survey based on this many interviews is approximately +/- 3 percentage points with a 95 percent level of confidence.  

About COUNTRY Financial®

The COUNTRY Financial® group ( serves about one million households and businesses throughout the United States. It offers a wide range of financial products and services from auto, home, business and life insurance to retirement planning services,  investment management and annuities.  

About Ipsos Public Affairs  

Ipsos is an independent market research company controlled and managed by research professionals. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos has grown into a worldwide research group with a strong presence in all key markets. Ipsos ranks third in the global research industry. At Ipsos we are passionately curious about people, markets, brands and society. We make our changing world easier and faster to navigate and inspire clients to make smarter decisions. We deliver with security, speed, simplicity and substance. We are Game Changers. With offices in 88 countries, Ipsos delivers insightful expertise across six research specializations: advertising, customer loyalty, marketing, media, public affairs research, and survey management. Ipsos researchers assess market potential and interpret market trends. We develop and build brands. We help clients build long-term relationships with their customers. We test advertising and study audience responses to various media and they measure public opinion around the globe. Visit to learn more about Ipsos’ offerings and capabilities.