Americans to Add $103 Billion to Personal Debt This Holiday Season

December 2, 2016 by Paul Ausick

More than 245 million Americans are planning to spend a cumulative total of $181.2 billion during the 2016 holiday season. But nearly two-thirds (64%, or over 157 million people) are planning to make purchases with at least some borrowed money, and 15% are planning to use credit cards to make all their gift purchases. Overall, Americans will add $103.3 billion to their debt on holiday spending this year.

Average spending per person is expected to be $738, unchanged from last year. The data come from a recent survey of 1,744 Americans commissioned by personal finance comparison website finder.com. More than 99% of Americans are planning to buy gifts this year.

Men are the biggest spenders, planning to spend about 50% more ($955 on average) than women ($615). Some 60% of men plan to borrow money, while 55% of women expect to borrow.

Based on income levels, Americans who earn no income plan to borrow most of the gift-buying money they need from family and friends and plan to spend a total of $216 each on gifts this year. All those who report that they are earning income plan to use their savings to buy gifts.

By age group, Gen Xers, aged 35 to 54, plan to spend the most, $895 on average. Boomers say they plan to spend an average of $548 on gifts this year, and millennials, aged 18 to 34, are planning to spend $667 on average.

Millennials expect to borrow the most, with about 24% of their total planned purchases covered by a short-term loan, a personal loan or money borrowed from a family member. Gen Xers plan to borrow 20% of their planned spending, and Boomers expect to borrow the least, 16%.

We noted in October another study that indicated that Americans are more worried about credit card debt than any other financial issue. But not that worried apparently.