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Holiday Shopping: Sticking to a Budget? Even Have One?

In 2016, only 5% of shoppers stuck to their holiday budget. About 27% did not have a budget. Do you have a budget?

The question was asked of those who shopped during the 2016 holiday season. Source: 2017 survey conducted Oct. 12-15, 2017, by Harris Poll on behalf of NerdWallet, among 2,135 U.S. adults ages 18 and older.

Let's tune into new data from NerdWallet's 2017 Consumer Holiday Shopping Report, which analyzed spending and behavior trends of more than 2,000 Americans aged 18 and over.

Key findings

1) Spending is expected to stay flat: Americans who will purchase holiday gifts during the 2017 holiday season plan to spend $660 on average, about the same as in 2016 ($657), and 60% of those who plan to purchase gifts in 2017 say they will spend the same as last year.

2) More Americans are finding themselves in debt as a result of holiday gift purchases: 56% of those who shopped during the 2016 holiday season incurred credit card debt, versus 48% of those who shopped during the 2015 holiday season.

3) Baby boomers who plan to shop this holiday season plan to spend the most: They estimate their spending at $802 on average. Millennials and Gen Xers follow at $434 and $679, respectively.

4) Budgets are often overlooked: More than a quarter of Americans (27%) who shopped during the 2016 holiday season did not have a budget, and 24% went over budget.

2017 vs 2016

The question was asked of those who said they planned to purchase gifts this holiday season. Averages rounded to nearest dollar. Source: 2017 survey conducted Oct. 12-15, 2017, by Harris Poll on behalf of NerdWallet, among 2,135 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. 2016 survey conducted Sept. 20-22, 2016, among 2,036 U.S. adults ages 18 and older.

Boomers Plan to Spend More, Millennials and Gen X Less

On average people plan to spend about the same in 2017 as last year. But boomers, no doubt influenced by stock market gains, plan to spend more. Millennials and Generation X plan to spend less.

Debt Payments

This question was asked of those who incurred credit card debt during the 2016 shopping season. Source: 2017 survey conducted Oct. 12-15, 2017, by Harris Poll on behalf of NerdWallet, among 2,135 U.S. adults ages 18 and older.

Millennials Struggling Most

Nearly a quarter of millennials (24%) and 16% of Gen Xers have yet to payoff 2016 debt. Only 8% of baby boomers have 2016 debt payments.

Average APR

The average APR according to CreditCards.com is 15.96% as of June 21, 2017.

If you are delinquent even once, your rate can jump to 25% or more. It's crazy to run perpetual debt with such rates.

2016 vs Budget

What's Your 2017 Plan?

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

I'm an early gen-xer born in the late sixties.

I don't have a budget per se but I am sure I will spend less than I did in years past. That's already baked in.

My situation is unique however - Not only do I have Christmas, I have four birthdays in my immediate family that fall in December. Both of my kids, one of my wife's kids, and my wife.

I plan to spend zero, as usual.

I don't have a budget, but it doesn't matter. What's far more important is what my wifes budget is, if she even has one.

Silver coin for the nieces & nephews.

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