The Holidays Are Stressing Americans Out…But They’re Working On It

New study from The Principal shows stress, but also progress

While holiday spending continues to be anxiety-inducing for some, many American workers are trying to beat the holiday blues by giving back and planning ahead.

Nearly two-thirds say holiday spending puts some level of stress on their personal financial situation, according to The Principal Financial Well-Being IndexSM: American Workers. Men fare better than women, with 40 percent saying the holidays put no stress on their financial situation, compared to only 30 percent of women who share their sentiment. Men are also more likely than women to say they’re happy with their overall financial situation (46 percent vs. 32 percent).

This year, half (52 percent) planned to set a budget for holiday gifts, and 85 percent of those who set a budget are likely to stick to it. Perhaps that number should be higher, given that in 2015, workers reported that they blew their yearly budget on dining out (24 percent), food/groceries (19 percent), entertainment (15 percent) and other consumer goods (15 percent), among other things.

“It’s not surprising to see that American workers continue to blow their budget dining out,” said Kevin Morris, vice president of retirement and income solutions at the Principal Financial Group®. “It’s easy to spend $30 here and $40 there on a meal and not think twice about it. But what if they put that money toward something more long-term, like retirement? Or building up their savings? Over time, those pizza deliveries and nights on the town add up and can make a huge difference in your budget.”

We’re working on it

The good news is there are some encouraging signs around holiday spending, even if people are stressed about it. Four in five workers (78 percent) plan to use cash, debit cards or credit cards (that they plan to pay off) to purchase holiday gifts. The top New Year’s resolution is putting money into a savings account each month, which jumped to 31 percent from 24 percent in 2014. Top money management priorities remain paying down debt (28 percent), saving for retirement (25 percent) and building a savings account for emergencies (15 percent).

People are also planning ahead, which may help them eliminate stress. Three-fourths (76 percent) planned to begin their holiday shopping by or on Black Friday. Women are more likely than men to have begun their shopping early. Women (57 percent) are also more likely than men (37 percent) to control portion sizes in order to manage their weight during the upcoming holiday season.

“People don’t like to be stressed, and it’s encouraging that they’re taking positive steps to address it. Maybe by planning better, we can still sneak in a few pizza nights – without blowing our budget,” added Morris.

This holiday season, 71 percent of employees plan to “give back” in some way. Baby Boomers are more likely than younger generations to donate money or goods to charitable organizations. Millennials, on the other hand, are more likely to volunteer time as a way to give back this holiday season.

The Principal Financial Well-Being Index: American Workers surveyed 1,122 American workers employed at small to mid-sized business across geographies and demographics. The Index is part of a series of quarterly studies commissioned by The Principal Knowledge Center examining the financial well-being of American workers, business owners and advisor opinions and practice management. The survey is conducted online by Harris Poll®.

For more research, analysis and insights, visit The Principal Knowledge Center and connect with us on Twitter.

December 2015 research on American workers

Want to learn more about the results from the October 2015 Well-Being Index report?

News Release Contact

Research

Hillary Gebert
515-246-4942
gebert.hillary@principal.com

Erica Jensen
515-362-0049
jensen.erica@principal.com

About The Harris Poll

Over the last 5 decades, Harris Polls have become media staples.  With comprehensive experience and precise technique in public opinion polling, along with a proven track record of uncovering consumers’ motivations and behaviors, Harris Poll has gained strong brand recognition around the world. Contact us for more information.


About the Principal Financial Group

The Principal Financial Group® (The Principal®)1 is a global investment management leader offering retirement services, insurance solutions and asset management. The Principal offers businesses, individuals and institutional clients a wide range of financial products and services, including retirement, asset management and insurance through its diverse family of financial services companies. Founded in 1879 and a member of the FORTUNE 500®, the Principal Financial Group has $516.2 billion in assets under management2 and serves some 20.6 million customers worldwide from offices in Asia, Australia, Europe, Latin America and the United States. Principal Financial Group, Inc. is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol PFG. For more information, visit www.principal.com.

1 “The Principal Financial Group” and “The Principal” are registered service marks of Principal Financial Services, Inc., a member of the Principal Financial Group.

2 As of Sept. 30, 2015