SOURCE: BMO Harris Bank

BMO Harris Bank

December 13, 2013 08:00 ET

BMO Harris Bank Study: Kansas and Missouri Families Have Different Holiday Spending Habits

LEAWOOD, KS--(Marketwired - Dec 13, 2013) -

  • While at least three-fourths of families in both states use a budget, 'Show-Me' residents are more likely to take on debt to fund their spending
  • BMO Harris Bank offers tips for keeping spending and debt in check

A national survey released today by BMO Harris Bank shows that close to 80 percent of parents with young children in the states of Missouri and Kansas prepare holiday spending budgets, although many exceed those limits before the year is out. Even with a budget in place, 55 percent of the 'Show Me' state parents spend more than planned, versus 42 percent of parents in Kansas.

The inaugural holiday spending survey from BMO Harris Bank, which surveyed parents with children under 10 years old, found that:

  • 75 percent of Kansas parents have a holiday budget. That percentage is 78 for Missouri parents
  • 58 percent of parents in Missouri expect to make impulse purchases this holiday season, compared to 53 percent of Kansas parents
  • At least one-third of parents on both sides of the border, say they expect to regret how much they spend come January (33 percent in Kansas and 41 percent in Missouri)

Parents in the two states appear to have different views on occurring debt, with 21 percent of Missouri respondents willing to borrow for holiday spending. That number is only 9 percent for Kansas parents. Missouri parents take on holiday debt, overwhelmingly (71 percent), because they can't afford everything they plan to purchase. Only 34 percent of Kansas respondents stated that as their reason. Most 'Sunflower State' residents' (44 percent) said they took on debt this time of year because they felt they could make up for it in the new year. 

"Between shopping, travel and entertaining, the holiday season can be a particularly expensive time of year. As parents open their wallets it's important that they shop within their means. It is encouraging to see that most have a budget in place, but sticking to it can be a challenge," said Brad Smith, Regional President, BMO Harris Bank. "If you do take on debt to pay for the holidays, you need to create a plan to pay it down quickly after the start of the new year."

Nationally, the survey reported that:

  • 38 percent of parents have a fixed budget, and 47 percent say they have a flexible one
  • More than half (56 percent) often spend over their budget
  • Over half (58 percent) make impulsive purchases during the holiday season
  • The 'holiday hangover' affects 37 percent of parents, who say they regret how much they spend come January

Michael Gregory, Head of U.S. Economics, BMO Capital Markets, noted that after several years of curbing their credit appetites, households finances are now in much better shape. Combined home mortgages and consumer credit peaked near 124 percent of after-tax incomes at the end 2007 and the ratio finally slipped below 100 percent at the end of 2012, where it seems to be stabilizing.

"Having gone through this multi-year restructuring, it's important that consumers maintain healthy balance sheets by using credit cautiously, making sure their payments fit well within their family budgets not only at current interest rates but should borrowing costs rise in the future," Mr. Gregory added.

BMO Harris Bank Learning Center to learn more about holiday budgeting and tackling debt and other tips for managing your expenses, including:

  • Cut the Extra Trimmings: Keep an eye out for the inevitable sales that come out around Black Friday, Super Saturday and Cyber Monday. Suggest doing a gift exchange rather than getting presents for each person
  • Use Tools to Stay on Track: BMO Harris Total Look is an online tool that lets you set spending and savings goal and keeps track of where your money is going
  • Plan Your Travel: If you're flying to see family, book early or be flexible with your dates and times to get the best deal. Or, consider a "staycation" and spend the holidays in your hometown
  • Pay off Debt Early: Make more than the minimum payment on your credit card debt, which will knock down the amount of interest you'll pay over time. This will also help to free up credit, which can improve your credit score. 

The BMO Harris spending survey was fielded online by Pollara between November 22nd and 29th. In total, 993 parents with children under 10 were interviewed, including an oversample of 101 from Kansas and 91 from Missouri. Results for a probability sample of this size would be accurate to ± 3.1%, 19 times out of 20.

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