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A new survey by Credible.com finds that millennials are planning as much or more on holiday shopping this year than they did last year, despite their growing fear of credit card debt.

To better understand how millennials think about budgeting, credit card debt, and spending around the holidays, we polled 500 18-34 year-olds in the U.S. who carry credit card debt.

Key takeaways

Haunted by the ghost of Christmas Present(s)?

More than 70% of respondents surveyed said that they planned to spend just as much or more on holiday shopping than they did the previous year.

This is despite that fact that an overwhelming number of respondents stated that credit card debt was the biggest fear in their lives, even scarier than the threat of war, or even death.

Worryingly though, budgeting seems overlooked, as less than half of all respondents said they know how much they plan to spend on shopping this year.

Creating and even sticking to a budget won’t make you immune to holiday debt — we all know how those little, last minute purchases can add up. But it’s crucial to set a limit for yourself before you hit the stores.

Because if you don’t…

We know what you're getting for Christmas this year

It’s debt.

Debt seems to have become part and parcel of holiday shopping, with 16% of millennials planning to lean on their credit cards to finance their spending.

But it’s not all doom and gloom — eight out of ten (81%) respondents who plan to spend money holiday shopping seem to be shying away from borrowing, and plan to pay it off immediately if they do.

But wait...there's myrrh


The percentage of millennials who plan to withdraw from savings our take out a personal loan to pay for their holiday shopping

So intent are millennials on getting their holiday shopping done that more than 7% of millennials surveyed plan to dip into their savings, or even take out a personal loan, in order to pay for their Christmas purchases.

Needless to say, this is probably not the best idea, especially if you already have credit card debt, as all of our respondents do.

Sleighing your debt

It’s easy to get carried away during the holidays. But your credit card debt doesn’t have to sound the death knell for those sweet holiday deals you’re itching to take advantage of.

These tips can help you keep your spending on track.

    • Set a (realistic) spending limit: Different strategies will work for different people. Some people do best at by setting individual budgets for each person on their gift list; others might find it easier to set a maximum amount for themselves and figure it out from there. But the most important thing to remember is that having some plan is better than not having one at all
    • Carry cash: If you’re already struggling with credit card debt and you find it difficult to resist temptation, just carry cash. Withdraw the amount that you can afford to spend and leave your credit cards behind. This will force you to think about your budget and help you stay away from those impulse buys
    • Take advantage of holiday sales: Planning is key if you want to get the best prices this holiday season. Make a list of potential gift items and start tracking them early. You can find some great discounts during Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales
    • Prioritize paying off credit card debt: If all else fails, and you end up accruing some credit card debt, make a conscious effort to pay it off as quickly as possible. Carrying a balance on your credit card(s) can rack up your fees and interest costs and negatively impact your credit score

Other options that could help you manage your debt include applying for a balance transfer credit card — often, these cards will offer you six to 18 months of 0% APR for balance transfers, giving you some time to get your finances in order without accruing a ton of interest.

If you’re looking for a low interest card to help with your spending this winter, a zero percent interest credit card could also be a great option.


We obtained this data by surveying 500 adults ages 18 to 34 who have credit card debt, and asking them the following questions:

  • Do you plan on spending more, the same, or less on holiday shopping this year than you did last year?
  • Do you know how much you plan to spend on holiday shopping this year?
  • How do you plan to pay for your holiday shopping this year?

The survey was conducted through Pollfish on October 24, 2017 as part of a study to illustrate millennials’ holiday spending behaviors

About the author
Credible Staff
Credible Staff

The goal of the Credible editorial writers and staff is to help our readers get up to speed on issues surrounding student loans, mortgage, and personal finance, so you can make informed decisions. We’re here to help you stay on top of the latest news, trends, concepts, and changes in policy and regulations.

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