If there’s one universal feeling among parents and families this year, it’s that we all collectively feel like we’re drowning under the increasing costs of…well, everything. So it makes sense that a new survey conducted by Credit Karma concludes that a notable amount of Americans aren’t exactly excited about the holidays this year—all because of the cost.

In fact, nearly 1/4 of Americans (24%) surveyed actually wish the holidays were canceled this year because the financial stress is just too much.

The study, conducted by Qualtrics on behalf of Intuit Credit Karma, shows that more than half of Americans will take on debt this holiday season, with most people saying they’ll likely be more than $500 in debt.

Parents are spending more—and going into further debt—this year

The study found that more than half of parents (52%) would rather take on debt than have their children be aware that they can’t financially afford the gifts they want. Even parents who are typically financially responsible say they’re planning to take on debt this holiday season to buy gifts for their kids.

Ever since pandemic inflation began rising in the spring of 2021, most families find themselves scratching their heads over their bank statements month after month wondering where all their money has gone. Personally, whenever I’m talking with friends or neighbors about money woes, the one thing I always reference is oversimplified but still true: Just look at the price of a box of Cheez-Its, for example. As the primary grocery shopper for my household during the past decade, I know exactly how much a Family Size box of our favorite snack crackers used to cost for several years. And it never went over $4 a box. Now, it costs nearly $7 for a box where we live.

So if you think about how that one item has increased $3 in such a short amount of time, nearly twice its original cost, think about every other grocery item families purchase on a weekly basis. When it costs an astonishing amount of money to simply feed your family these days, then yes, it makes total sense that no one has the extra income for holiday spending right now.

Even more heartbreaking—18% of parents reported they aren’t able to give gifts to their children this holiday season due to their financial situation. Of Americans who plan to take on debt, many will do so to purchase gifts for their family, while others report they expect to go into debt for essentials like groceries for holiday meals.

“The holidays are often a joyful time of year, but they can also take a toll on consumers’ wallets,” said Courtney Alev, consumer financial advocate at Credit Karma. “This year, many Americans have another expense to factor into their holiday budgets: their federal student loan payments—and, if our survey is any indication, it could be what tips consumers over the edge.”

Alev and Credit Karma have suggestions for those who are grappling with inflation and the overall rising cost of living. If you still want to feel free to get into holiday mode without going into debt, they suggest making a “50/30/20” rule:

  • 30% of your monthly income goes toward “wants”
  • 20% goes toward financial goals (like paying down debt, etc.)

Once you know how much money you have to spend overall, make a list of what you want to put your money toward this holiday season. And, as always, keep an eye out for deals and sales when buying gifts.