HONOLULU (KHON2) — Times have changed. In post-WWII America, families became accustomed to splurging and indulging during the holiday season.

From getting the latest gadgets for home or the most popular toys for the children, Americans maintained an economy that was confident enough to sustain economic growth for decades.

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In our post-9/11 world, we have become more frugal. We no longer have the confidence to spend the way the Greatest Generation did. Even Baby Boomers had a heyday that future generations have not been able to experience fully.

The holidays are meant to be a time of laughter and cheer, but Americans this year are being forced to scrimp which has led to a damper on their holiday spirit.

According to a new survey, parents of young children, at a rate of 60%, said they are dreading the impending holidays with 44% indicating that they are losing sleep over the stress of money and gifts.

Meanwhile, there are 47% of Americans who said they are dreading the 2023 holiday season due to the costs involved. The study found that Americans are expecting to spend on average around $654 on holiday gifts. What makes this number eerie is the fact that 31% believe they will go into debt simply by participating in holiday traditions with 10% indicating that they are still paying off holiday bills from 2022.

“The holiday season is stressful for most anyone,” said chief credit analyst Matt Schulz who oversaw the survey.

There are 50% of parents who believe their children will be disappointed with their gifts this year, which increases the parents’ worry and stress. Hence, they feel that they need to spend money they don’t have so their children can enjoy the season.

More than half of the parents surveyed (52%) said they are cutting back on monthly expenses to afford gifts. These are the essentials that parents are putting on the backburner:

  • The top sacrifice that is being found is in items that parents would normally purchase for themselves (32%).
  • The next cut is coming to dining out or buying coffee (18%).
  • Some are even sacrificing future prosperity by putting less into savings (15%) in order to afford gifts and holiday meals.

“There’s the pressure of wanting to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list and, for parents, finding the kiddos’ gifts can be particularly stressful,” explained Schulz.

For some respondents, spending less on gifts has become a necessary evil. The survey discovered that while 44% regretted overspending in previous years, a full 75% said they are amending their holiday spending habits to accommodate the lack of finances to do so.

Some have hacked the spending conundrum with around 28% indicating that have been slowly purchasing gifts for several months. Another 52% intent to do most if not all of their holiday shopping on Black Friday, and 37% said they are implementing fun ideas like Secret Santas to deal with the costs.

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“There’s also travel, hosting family and friends from out of town, organizing holiday parties and 7 million other things to add to your already jam-packed to-do list,” added Schulz. “In so many ways, it really is the most wonderful time of the year, but it most definitely isn’t in a lot of other ways.”