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Gifts are not what we really want for Christmas

Research shows gifts are well down the list of what we really want for Christmas

If you’re heading out to do Christmas shopping this weekend you may want to pause and consider that gifts come a poor seventh place in a list of what New Zealanders most look forward to this season.

Research by the Commission for Financial Capability (CFFC) shows that time with family was far and away the most important – 62% of us rate this number one, with summer weather coming second at 37% and time off work third at 33%.

These were followed by Christmas food, time with friends, and the Christmas spirit of love and peace. Only 13% of people rated giving or exchanging gifts as something they looked forward to.

On the other hand, shopping, commercialism and the cost of Christmas were the three things people looked forward to the least, all coming in at around 33%.

Interim Retirement Commissioner Peter Cordtz says one way to counter the anxiety of spending at this time of year is to talk with your family and agree ways to keep down Christmas costs.

“Have a discussion about what Christmas means to you and set your expectations together, in the context of what you’ve got coming up in 2020 and your long term goals,” says Cordtz. “It will take the pressure off you and everyone in your whānau. None of us wants to start a new year behind the eight ball having spent too much over Christmas.”

Younger age groups tend to go into debt the most over Christmas – 32% of those aged 18-34 said they had taken on debt last Christmas, and 29% of those aged 35-54. About 7% of each group were still paying it off three to six months later.

However, the research also showed that consumers may be pushing back on the pressure to spend at Christmas, with 40% saying they agreed spending limits on gifts, 26% agreeing with family not to buy gifts at all, and about 18% making gifts or agreeing to a Secret Santa system of each person buying for only one member of the family.

“The best time to plan for Christmas 2020 may be Christmas 2019,” says Cordtz. “Having those conversations early is an important part of setting the scene for an enjoyable Christmas, a happy New Year, and a great year ahead.”

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