If you have children or grandchildren, the holidays come with a lot of pressure to dig deep for gifts. Many families have traditions of surrounding Christmas trees with presents, some of them lavish -- and while it's easy to tell an adult you plan to cut back this year, many aren't willing to do that when it comes to children.
Culturally, there's an expectation that the holiday season means a lot of gifts, especially for children. Young kids, of course, might be satisfied with some basic toys and stuffed animals, but older children expect smartphones, gaming systems, computers, tablets, expensive clothing, and more.
Parents and grandparents could, of course, say no -- but a new survey from GoBankingRates suggests that's probably not happening. The average American, the survey found, will spend $1,327 on holiday shopping in 2018. Some age groups spend more than others, and kids almost certainly play a role in that.
Which age groups spend the most?
The average age when American women have their first child has climbed to 28, up from 24.6 in 1970, according to data from the U.S. government. In a broad sense, that means women in their mid-30s to 40s have kids between 6 and the teenage years.
That likely explains why U.S. adults ages 35-44 plan to spend the third most of any age group ($1,145). Those families likely have first children that are roughly between 8 and 17. Since the average American has 2.4 children, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, parents are likely to have more kids in the teenage age bracket once they cross into the 45-54 age bracket, which spends the second-highest amount ($1,321) on the holidays.
The highest-spending group -- 65 and over -- may also be driven by children. By the time someone reaches that age they not only have their own children (and in 1973 American families averaged three kids), but those kids now have children that are teenagers or older.
People ages 55 to 64 actually spend the least on gifts at $489. That could be due to the age of their children and the age/existence of grandchildren. For example, a couple that had a kid at 28 and another at 30 will have a 27-year-old and a 25-year-old when they turn 55. That means that even if they have grandchildren, which they may not, they're not really at peak gift demand age.
|Planned Holiday Spending by Age|
|How much do you plan to spend/what is your budget for holiday shopping this year?||Average amount:|
|18 to 24||$644|
|25 to 34||$843|
|35 to 44||$1,145|
|45 to 54||$1,321|
|55 to 64||$489|
|65 and over||
What does it mean?
Clearly, parents and grandparents spend big when it comes to the holiday season. That's fine if they can afford it, but data shows that Americans add just over $1,000 in debt during the holidays. In addition, 15% of Americans are still paying off last year's debt, according to a recent report.
It's understandable that parents and grandparents would want to make the holidays magical. That can be done, however, without going into debt or spending money you don't have. That may mean not buying the children in your life everything they want, but that's significantly smarter than crippling your family's finances for years to come.