SOURCE: BMO Harris Bank

BMO Harris Bank

December 13, 2013 08:00 ET

BMO Harris Bank Study: Wisconsin Families Below National Average for Taking on Holiday Debt

MILWAUKEE, WI--(Marketwired - Dec 13, 2013) -

  • Half of Wisconsin parents with a budget will spend over
  • BMO Harris Bank offers tips for keeping spending and debt in check

A new survey of parents in Wisconsin released today by BMO Harris Bank found that while 85 percent of parents with young children set a holiday spending budget, 51 percent still go over their limits.

When it comes to taking on debt, 13 percent of parents in Wisconsin said they may end up in the red, lower than 16 percent at the national level.

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

  • 38 percent of parents have a fixed budget, and 47 percent say they have a flexible one
  • 14 percent have not created a budget for holiday spending at all
  • Slightly more than half (55 percent) make impulse purchases during the holiday season
  • The "holiday hangover" affects 42 percent, who say they regret how much they spend come January

"With events, gifts and decorations, the costs at this time of year can add up quickly. It's easy to lose track of where you are spending your dollars, so budgeting is key. Our survey tells us that most Wisconsin families know this, which is great news," said Kara Kaiser, Regional President, BMO Harris Bank. "The hard part after setting a budget is staying within it. Paying off any debt as soon as possible come January will help to get you back on track." 

The survey found that the primary reason parents in Wisconsin said they are willing to go into debt is because they are confident they can pay it off in the new year. Just over one third (36 percent) justified it as the only time they spend beyond their means, and 35 percent said they feel social pressure to spend and celebrate at this time of year. Slightly less than one third (30 percent) said they take on debt because they don't have enough disposable income to pay for all their planned purchases.

Nationally, the survey reported that:

  • 38 percent of parents have a fixed budget, and 47 percent say they have a budget that is flexible
  • Only 13 percent of parents have not created a budget for holiday spending at all
  • 58 percent of parents expect to make impulse purchases during the holidays
  • The 'holiday hangover' affects 37 percent of parents, who say they regret how much they spend come January

Visit the 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 between November 22nd and 29th. In total, 993 parents with children under 10 were interviewed, including an oversample of 96 from Wisconsin. Results for a probability sample of this size would be accurate to ± 3.1%, 19 times out of 20.

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