Nearly Half of Americans Feel Pressured to Spend Too Much Money on Holiday Gifts

November 19, 2018, 3:43 PM UTC

If you’re stressed about how much you’ll have to spend on gifts for Aunt Audrie and Cousin Freddie, don’t feel lonely. Forty-five percent of people surveyed by Bankrate felt pressured to spend more than they thought they should.

The pressure was higher for those with children, as 54% felt the need to overspend.

“The holidays are a time of great joy,” Adrian Garcia, a data analyst at, told Fortune. “But unfortunately, they’re a time of great stress for us. We’re worried about how much we’re going to spend on gifts, travel, and other things related to the holidays.”

Part of the problem is social media. “Now, when you have gifts, you have people putting them on Instagram,” Garcia said. “There’s so much more expectation around opening a gift.”

Some people said they’re finding ways to get out from under. Thirteen percent are willing to boycott gift-giving. Almost a quarter of people would re-gift presents they received but didn’t want. And 16% would give second-hand goods.

“Most of us in reality will … limit [giving] to closest friends and family and use coupons and sales” rather than totally cut gifts, Garcia said.

Younger people feel more pressure to overspend than those who are older. Forty percent of millennials are willing to give homemade gifts, versus 30% of baby boomers, and 22% are willing to give second-hand items.

The squeeze is really on middle-income earners. More than half making between $30,000 and $75,000 feel pressure to overspend, versus 47% of those making under $30,000 and 41% of people who make $75,000 or more. The former don’t have as much ability to spend too much and people making more have an easier time meeting their bills.

Garcia says to create a realistic budget, stay within it, and avoid adding debt. “It’s really not worth going from black to red in your budget,” he said.