The holidays are here and it’s a time when many of us tend to over-spend. In fact, a national survey recently uncovered some interesting spending habits among consumers a cross-section of generations, from Gen Z to Baby Boomers.

The survey revealed the following:

Three in 10 people in the US admit to spending more money than they should just to impress family and friends.

Two out of three US consumers will give themselves a budget, however it will still take 33 percent of people six months to pay off credit card debt they incur during the holidays.

One in five Gen Zers plans to spend big bucks on Mom and themselves, possibly adding up to over $500 spent on the two gifts.

Four in 10 respondents admit they feel pressure to spend on people they don’t want to, a number that’s even higher among Millennials (56 percent).

Many respondents said they’re as likely to buy gifts for their pets as they are for Grandma and Grandpa, while grandparents prioritize their grandkids, with 96 percent planning to give them gifts. 

Relationships are lacking communication during the holidays, with half of those in relationships admitting they don’t agree with their significant other about how much to spend on each other.

The holidays don’t have to be financially stressful. By applying a few smart practices, the season can be enjoyed the way it was intended, spending quality time with family and friends. 

Here are some suggestions to stay on track:

Remember your goal and remind yourself of this each time you’re considering going over budget. 

Create a plan. Create a budget and stick to it. Write a list of all the people you want to buy for, and include other related holiday expenses, such as travel costs, hostess gifts, gift wrap, holiday groceries, etc., and make sure to include a dollar amount for each that works for your wallet. It’s OK to use your credit cards for holiday purchases, but make sure you have a plan to pay them off promptly to avoid paying interest on those expenses.  

Scale back your shopping list. For larger families, groups of friends or even co-workers, suggest a Secret Santa or White Elephant gift exchange to reduce the need to buy a gift for everyone in the group.

Be transparent. Be honest with your friends and family about what’s feasible within your finances. Putting your savings at stake for an annual gift — whether it’s for someone you want to give one to or not — is not necessarily worth the risk. 

The bottom line is that establishing a budget and sticking to it will prevent you from having a financial holiday hangover that can persist well into the new year. Remember, the holidays are not just about expensive presents, consider giving the gift of being present and in the moment.

Patrick Nygren serves as a Union Bank Regional President for Los Angeles and the Central Coast. He oversees the branch banking activities of more than 87 branches and 580 employees. Nygren has more than 15 years of experience in consumer and small business banking.

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