Seasonal spending a downer for a third of millennials

A new poll uncovers angst and stress as holiday traditions nudge too many Canadians into debt

Seasonal spending a downer for a third of millennials

It’s supposed to be a season of cheer and celebration, but it turns out that a lot of Canadians aren’t excited for the holidays as they face the possibility of overspending or getting in debt.

According to a new survey from goals-based investing app Mylo, nearly one third (29%) of millennials aged 18 to 34 years old have negative feelings associated with the holidays, and 17% would prefer to skip them altogether. In addition, while 58% of respondents said they will not save up for this year’s seasonal spending, 38% will incur debt from holiday-related expenses.

“The holidays are supposed to be a happy time, but unfortunately our research found this isn't the case for many Canadians,” said Mylo founder and CEO Phil Barrar. “Too many of us end up in debt as a result of this season because we overspend or simply don't save up enough.”

More than half (56%) of respondents said they would alter holiday gift-giving practices in consideration of their finances. Among the respondents, more than a quarter would prefer to receive cash instead of presents 27%) or totally eliminate holiday gift-giving (29%), while around one in six (17%) said they would skip the holidays altogether.

Many of those surveyed also indicated that holiday spending impacts their emotional being. Among the negative feelings reportedly associated with the holidays were increased stress (14%), resentfulness (9%), and sadness (6%).

When asked about their plans to save for the season, almost a fifth (19%) said they were already saving, while 23% said they will. The rest said they were not planning to save in advance (25%) or were not planning on spending much (33%).

Looking at the respondents’ projected holiday budgets, the survey found a full 22% saying they will spend nothing, and 45% saying they’ll spend up to $500. Just 17% said they’re allotting between $501 and $1,000, only 6% were willing to take it up to $1,500, and only 9% were willing to spend a minimum of $1,501.

As for the amount of debt respondents were expecting to incur because of the holidays, the poll found more than half (55%) were planning to borrow up to $500. In other words, more than half of Canadians could have avoided taking on holiday debt by saving $500 over the course of the year.

The report also uncovered some province-specific insights:

  • Millennials in Ontario will spend the most during the holidays, with 35% to spend over $500 and 37% to incur debt;
  • Quebec residents were most likely to skip the holidays, with 21% of participants from the province saying so. But the group also had the lowest proportion of respondents expecting to get in debt during the season (35%).
  • With 60% saying they’ll spend the most money on gifts (instead of charity, a vacation, entertainment, and so on) and 45% expecting to incur debt this season, Atlantic Canadian millennials are the most resentful about the holidays.
  • Meanwhile, millennials in the Prairies were most likely to report feeling stress (17%) and incur more than $500 of debt (20%)
  • Finally, British Columbia had the highest share of respondents feeling excited (45%) even as 40% of the respondents expected to borrow money for their holiday expenses.

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