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Merrymoneystory hero
• Dec 14, 2022

Meet John, a fun-loving, family man, who always buys his wife and children the absolute best holiday gifts.

But like so many others, John is a habitual over-spender.

Every year, he says he's going to stick to his budget, but when he thinks about his wife of 30 years, he just has to try and top last year's gift.

But John isn't alone when buying that extra toy for his three children or trying to get his wife a gift she won't forget, and don't get us started on the grandchildren.

The Overspender

John is like the 69% of consumers who recently admitted in the Annual Merry Money Survey that they have previously overspent during past holidays, of which 45% said they overspent by $300 or more.

TD polled 1,000+ Americans about their shopping, spending and money management habits during the holiday season and found that the majority of participants are just like John.

John is also like the 74% of adult participants who said the financial aspect of the holiday season makes them anxious.

But finding that right gift for the love of his life and seeing the look on his grandkids' faces when he gets them the best gift outweighs the anxiety.

And again, John is not alone. Two-thirds of survey respondents said the "pressure to find the right gift" is the No. 1 reason they overspend.

And when it's all said and done, John likes to treat himself a bit. He's part of the 83% who said they treat themselves during the holidays, 44% of whom spend $100 or less and one-third (33%) spend over $100 on items for themselves during this time.

“It’s important that consumers are in control of their finances, not only during the holiday season, but year-round. The fundamental practice of having and maintaining an accurate budget can help them gain the confidence to maximize their spending goals and behaviors," said Matt Boss, Head of Consumer Products at TD Bank.

The Budgeters

For those out there who identify with John, don't fret. Meet Chad, someone you can aspire to be more like.

Chad is part of the 75% of respondents who say they create a holiday budget every year. He's also part of the smaller group of 42% who said they stick to that budget every year.

There are several reasons why Chad is so loyal to his budgeted list of holiday goodies.

For one, he's part of the 75% of respondents who are concerned about rising inflation, but to combat this is part of the 25% who say they saved extra money in advance of the holiday season.

“The continuing rise of inflation has added a new level of anxiety and stress to many Americans, and it’s understandable that this could impact how consumers decide to spend this holiday season compared to previous years,” Boss said.

In addition to concerns over inflation, Chad was also proactive and spent less in other areas like eating out to make sure he would have enough for the holidays this year. He's part of the 65% of respondents who said they took action like this in 2022 to be better prepared for the holiday crunch.

Chad is adamant about not being part of the 37% who overspend on gift cards or 19% who overspend on holiday decorations. He REALLY doesn't want to be one of the 17% that overspends on gifts for himself.

No, Chad wants the gratification of sitting down, creating a solid, logical budget and sticking to it each and every year.

With this in mind, he's part of the 42% who use their debit card as primary form of payment, so he knows exactly how much he can and will spend. Debit card shoppers lead the way with credit card shoppers close behind at 33%.

The Rewards Earners

Meet Carmen. Carmen is like Chad in that she budgets every year but takes this action one step further by using the holidays to go big on credit card rewards.

Carmen is part of the 76% of respondents who use bank or store credit cards during the holidays to earn rewards or cash back on their spending.

“All financial situations require unique approaches that strike the right balance between saving and spending," said Boss. “For example, for those consumers who might be looking to take advantage of incentives and cash back for their holiday purchases, you might elect to use rewards or store credit cards."

Another 33% of respondents said they used Credit Cards for holiday shopping to take advantage of fraud protection, while 23% said they were trying to build credit.

And while Carmen is eager for those credit card rewards, she's just as eager to pay off her balances and wipe her debt clean.

Carmen is part of the 65% who said they plan to pay 100% of their outstanding balance from holiday shopping by the end of January.

And while one-third of respondents admitted to dipping into their emergency savings to pay for holiday gifts, Carmen is part of the 65% who will never ever do this.

"No matter how you choose to spend, it’s more important to spend within your means and have a plan to responsibly manage those expenses," Boss added.

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