Folks, it’s December, and you know what that means: The holidays are right around the corner! While some of you may be jumping for joy about that, others might be stressing hardcore over gifts, money and the like.
Usually when I write these pieces for my weekly millennial column, I pull from what I’m going through in my own life. And this year, I know I had to write about something I’ve been stressing about: holiday shopping. Ugh. While I do really enjoy buying gifts for everyone I love, I don’t exactly love spending all the money I have left over in my bank account.
So let’s talk about millennial spending habits around the holidays.
Millennials Aren’t Frugal During the Holidays
Accenture’s 12 Annual Holiday Shopping Survey reveals that of any demographic, millennials will be spending the most this holiday season. On average, we’ll be spending $658, compared to $632 last year—and while that may not seen like a huge difference, it definitely counts, especially if you’re on a tight budget (ahem, like me).
This propensity to spend frivolously comes as fairly surprising news considering many millennials are broke due to student loan debt, amongst other financial investments. (But hey, our generation doeshave a perfectionist streak, so maybe we’re just trying to get it right?)
Wrong. It looks like we may be a little more selfish than you think. Wikibuy recently surveyed 4,000 Americans on their non-essential spending habits. They found that 64 percent of Americans aged 18-24 “treat themselves,” the highest of any demographic that likes to “treat themselves.”
What’s more is women treat themselves more than men, and they actually tend to feel more guilty about it:
But They’re Very Stressed About The Holidays
OK, so millennial women like to spend money. (I think we knew that already). But there’s a way to control that shopper’s guilt and stress.
I was in an Uber the other day when my driver started telling me how the younger Americans she drives around are stressing about the holidays, while the visitors from different countries that she’s driven tend to be more lax. It got me thinking how easy it can be to get lost in the stress, madness and inherent nature of the holidays and forget that this time of year is exactly about the opposite: relaxation and spending quality time with the ones you love!
So instead of getting all frazzled about what you’re going to get Cindy for your Secret Santa party, be grateful that you’ll be with all your close friends. We already know how stress affects the body: It can lead to worse sleep and even manifest itself as physical pain. If you look at the holidays as a positive rather than a negative, it’ll decrease your stress. A change of mindset can change everything.
Here’s How to Shop if You’re in the Hole
Set a strict budget for yourself and stick to it. This may seem like common sense, but guess what I see a lot of my friends doing? They’ll come up with a budget for themselves, then proceed to throw that budget out the window the moment they see a cute pair of Stuart Weitzmans at the mall. Know what you can actually stick to and, well, stick to it. It requires a level of self-discipline that you’ve got to teach yourself, but if you can do it, power to you.
Oh and, uh, take the focus off of of you. Maybe the holidays aren’t the best time to “treat yourself.” As it turns out, Americans would rather buy non-essential items with gifted money than their own money, so rest assured that if you're giving someone money or a gift card this holiday season, your gifted money will go towards good use:
Plan in advance. We are of the generation that isn’t particularly fond of planning for success, but rather, instant gratification; social media boasts instantaneous “likes,” and if we ever need help with something, we can just Google it. But some things need to be planned in advance to work, and effective holiday shopping is one of those things. It might be too late to plan ahead for this Christmas, but you can get kick-started and plan for next Christmas by setting some money aside from each paycheck throughout the year to afford those end-of-the-year gifts.
Remember in the end, it’s the THOUGHT that counts. You don’t have to be making six figures to be able to give a good gift. Your loved ones will most likely appreciate anything you’ve put some thought into, so make a pretty card, a memory-filled scrapbook or a pretty Christmas ornament for the family tree.
You may not have a lot of money, but you certainly have a lot of heart – and you can’t put a price on love.