How Much Money will Millennials Spend this Holiday?


Millennials are expecting to spend more money than the average on gifts this holiday season. Just how much? They plan to spend an average of $861 this year.

On what? At the top of the list is gift cards, with apparel running a close second.

According to Shawn Carter of CNBC, “Over a third of Millennials expect their spending to go up...That's compared with 33 percent of those in Gen Z, 26 percent of Gen Xers and just 16 percent of baby boomers.” Notice: Gen Zers are right on the heels of the Millennials. Both are increasing in their influence on the economy, and both intend to flex their spending muscle during the holidays. Millennials credit higher wages as one of their top reasons for the increase in holiday spending.

Is this reasonable? Dave Ramsey writes, “A family making $50,000 should spend around $800, and that's the entire Christmas budget. That's the average. Some spend more, some spend less. I'm not saying that's exactly right for you, but it gives you an idea of what reasonable looks like.”

But some will overspend, or won’t budget at all. Surveying numbers from last year, Kari Paul reports at MarketWatch, “Shoppers in the U.S. racked up an average of $1,054 of debt [during the 2018] Christmas season — an increase of 5% over last year, according to a survey from MagnifyMoney, a personal finance website. It found 44% of shoppers racked up more than $1,000 in holiday debt, and 5% accumulated more than $5,000 in debt.”

That’s not good.

Christians shouldn’t be afraid to talk about money. Financial stewardship is a major topic in the Bible, and how we care for our possessions is reflective of the state of our soul. As Millennials and Gen Zers enter the holiday season, there are helpful reminders church leaders can offer them as they consider how to spend money.

The EveryDollar blog offers these four pieces of advice for avoiding overspending:

  1. Make a budget and stick to your list.

  2. Split the pricey gifts (for example, ask siblings to help on a nice gift for your parents).

  3. Set a family spending limit.

  4. Keep your receipts.

That’s a start. You may have your own wisdom to offer. Share it. God is generous, and we should be, too. When we give gifts we reflect something of the character of God. But we must also be wise, avoid debt, spend within our means, and above all be good stewards.

These are lessons some of us have been fortunate enough to learn. They are also lessons that can be taught. It is our responsibility to impart wisdom to those in emerging generations.