MassMutual Consumer Spending & Saving Index: Americans plan to spend $1,243 on average on holiday-related purchases this season

  • More than one-quarter (26%) say they will shop exclusively in person to avoid potential delivery delays.
  • Of those who plan to pay for the holidays with a credit card, as many as 59% feel they will not be able to pay off incurred debt for at least six months.
  • Nearly half (44%) plan to donate to charity this holiday season, with the average donation totaling $795.
  • Nearly three-quarters (73%) of Millennials say they will factor sustainability into their purchasing decisions this season, while more than half (54%) of the general population said sustainability factors, such as a brand’s adherence to sustainable practices or offering of eco-friendly products, will factor into their financial decisions.
  • Nearly 90% of Gen Zers indicated their financial situation changed during the pandemic, however, one-third (33%) say they are now saving more compared to the start of the pandemic. While 72% do not pay off their credit card balances each month, half report having a savings account, 40% stick to a budget, and 32% regularly check their credit score.
  • Of those planning to make a financial resolution in the new year, top resolutions include putting more money into savings (37%), sticking to a budget (27%), enjoying more experiences (25%), paying bills on time (22%), and starting an emergency fund (22%).

SPRINGFIELD, Mass – Nov. 16, 2021 – As the holidays quickly approach, Americans are more optimistic about their financial outlook and are planning to increase their holiday spending compared to last year, according to new research from Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual).

Nearly three-quarters (73%) are optimistic about their finances and over one-third are “very optimistic” (35%), up from the percentage who reported being very optimistic in July (27%) and February (21%).

In another sign of consumer positivity, among those who plan to increase their spending this season, 42% expect to spend at least $500 more this holiday season than last, and one-quarter expect to spend at least $1,000 more. On average, Americans plan to spend $1,243 on holiday-related purchases this season.

  • While the vast majority (78%) say shopping for others will drive their spending increase, many are also eager to treat themselves. Nearly half (49%) will purchase gifts for themselves that contribute to a higher holiday price tag.
  • Many also expect to spend more this holiday season due to travel (34%), attending/hosting in-person celebrations (34%) and big-ticket experiences (e.g., shows, sporting events) (23%).
  • Twenty-nine percent will spend money on in-store shopping this year when they hadn’t last year. More than one-quarter (26%) will shop exclusively in-person to avoid potential delivery delays.
  • At the same time, increased spending may risk exacerbating credit card debt for many. Of those who plan to pay for holiday purchases with a credit card, they will not pay off right away, 59% will not be able to pay off incurred debt for at least six months.

“We’re encouraged by the enthusiasm and confidence around the upcoming holiday season – a reflection of a better consumer outlook on the economy and personal finances after a period of uncertainty,” said Mike Fanning, head of MassMutual US. "Careful planning and spending, as well as how you pay for purchases, is key to help ensure an enjoyable holiday season and new year. Especially this year, the earlier the better, as options may be limited.”

Millennials Leading the Way on Side Hustles, Self-Care

The Index also finds that as Americans continue to navigate stress associated with the pandemic, Millennials lead the way on uncovering new income streams to increase financial security.

  • During the pandemic, more than half (56%) of Millennials added a new side hustle or supplemental source of income. Nearly two-thirds (63%) were motivated by the need for extra spending money, followed by pursuing something they’re building a career in or are passionate about (30%) and having more time since working remote (26%).
  • As Millennials take on new responsibilities while navigating continued impacts of the pandemic, 80% are feeling some level of burnout, compared to only a third (35%) of Baby Boomers. Top drivers of Millennials’ burnout include personal factors (56%) and financial stress (54%), followed by work-related and pandemic-related factors (each 44%).
  • At the same time, Millennials plan to reward themselves for their hard work: nearly half (47%) expect to "treat themselves” this holiday season unlike last year with self-care purchases or experiences, compared to 28% of Gen Xers and 10% of Baby Boomers.

Gen Z Finances and Independence

The survey also examined younger generations and found that nearly 90% of Gen Zers indicated their financial situation changed during the pandemic. One-quarter report that the pandemic led to them feeling less financially confident (26%) and independent (20%). However, one-third (33%) also saved more compared to the start of the pandemic.

  • Gen Z’s top financial stressors include not being able to save for future goals (41%), insufficient income to live the life they want (40%), lack of funds for an emergency (40%), and paying rent/mortgage payments (27%). An additional 21% are stressed about needing to delay financial independence from their parents.
  • Today, 45% of Gen Zers live at home with their parents, with top reasons being not enough income to be independent (33%) and to save more money (29%). Sixty-one percent of Gen Zers say that they receive financial assistance from their parents, including food (36%), rent/housing (30%), clothing (21%) and monthly bills (21%).
  • Nearly two-thirds (62%) of Gen Zers have not invested their money during the pandemic. A key barrier for many was not knowing where to start even if they wanted to invest (24%)—especially true for women (28%) – or not having the money to do so if they wanted to invest (16%).

“A silver lining of the pandemic has been a reprioritization for many people on where they choose to invest their time, energy and money, with some likely wishing they had done this sooner. As with many things in life, the earlier you start, the more options become available to you. This holds true with gift giving, trip and event planning, your overall and financial health, and many other things in life. Start as early as you can. Your future self will thank you for it,” concluded Fanning.

Methodology
The MassMutual Consumer Spending & Saving Index tracks financial outlooks and behaviors in a changing economic environment. It offers an in-depth snapshot of people’s saving and spending behaviors and examines outlooks and attitudes being tapped to navigate the financial impacts of the pandemic and the changing state of the economy. Commissioned by MassMutual, the research was conducted online by PSB from October 18-22, 2021 among a nationally representative sample of 1,000 U.S. adults ages 18+. PSB additionally conducted an oversample of 500 adults statewide in Massachusetts and a separate oversample of 500 Gen Z 18- to 24-year-olds nationwide.

Links to prior indexes:

2021 Summer Index
2021 Spring Index
2021 Winter Index
2020 Holiday Spending Poll

About MassMutual
MassMutual is a leading mutual life insurance company that is run for the benefit of its members and participating policyowners. Founded in 1851, the company has been continually guided by one consistent purpose: we help people secure their future and protect the ones they love. With a focus on delivering long-term value, MassMutual offers a wide range of protection, accumulation, wealth management and retirement products and services. For more information, visit www.massmutual.com.