Four in ten Americans feel pressure to spend more than they can afford

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The SunTrust Banks, Inc. annual Holiday Financial Confidence survey reveals that 43 percent of Americans feel pressure to spend more than they can afford during the holiday season. Pressure to overspend is up four points since the survey was first conducted in 2014 by Harris Poll, but down slightly from a high of 46 percent last year.

Holiday Means 3.0

 

The December holiday season is often the most challenging time to gain control over finances, resulting in overspending that can lead to financial stress and distract people from enjoying the meaningful moments. Earlier this year, SunTrust launched the onUp movement to provide resources that empower Americans to move from financial stress to confidence. Throughout the holiday season, the company will provide a number of tips and tools on onUp.com/holiday, including a holiday planning guide, a holiday budget tool and a holiday spending calculator.

“People can better enjoy time with family and friends during the holidays if they have a spending game plan,” said Brian Nelson Ford, financial well-being executive at SunTrust. “Invest in what’s important and cut back on things that don’t truly enrich your life.”

In the SunTrust Holiday Financial Confidence survey, two-thirds of Americans (66 percent) admitted they experience stress during this time of year. To create a more memorable holiday season, SunTrust offers the following tips:

  1. Align spending with your values. The most meaningful gift you can give isn’t a present you buy, but your presence in the moment. Take the financial pressure off by giving gifts that promote personal connection, like offering to help an elderly grandparent with grocery shopping for a month.
  1. Embrace creative and unique gifts. If you’re an artist, gift a sketch. If your friend collects vinyl, scour secondhand stores for unique records. Reject the notion that a special gift has to break your bank account.
  1. Trim costs, not your social life. Togetherness around food is a hallmark of the holidays and a great way to connect with loved ones, but it can be expensive if you’re the host. To avoid the high cost of a lavish party, host a wine and cheese gathering or try an old-fashioned potluck.
  1. Choose the virtual shopping cart. Start your holiday shopping early and price compare online first. This can help relieve the pressure of last-minute purchases that often end up costing more.
  1. Take preemptive steps to avoid a holiday hangover. If reconciling your checking account balance isn’t a habit, the holidays are a good time to start. Tracking purchases every few days can help you keep spending under control and avoid financial regret in January.

 

Survey Methodology: The 2016 survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of SunTrust from October 13-17, 2016 among 3,032 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. The 2015 survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of SunTrust from October 23-27, 2015 among 2,013 adults ages 18 and older and the 2014 survey was conducted from October 28-30, 2014 among 2,026 adults ages 18 and older. These online surveys are not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

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