Survey: 'Tis the Season of Giving to Yourself

Shopping spree bags.

WILMINGTON, Del. -- A new poll questions how people's beliefs in age-old money mantras affect their holiday spending behaviors. The Chase Blueprint-AOL Holiday Money Mantra Survey tests common phrases, such as: "Is it really better to give than receive?" "Do you believe it's OK to treat yourself?" and "Does slow and steady win the race?" when it comes to personal financial habits. The survey reveals that people's holiday spending and borrowing habits significantly differ depending on their mantras.

One-third of Americans ages 25-64 say they will self-gift this holiday season. Interestingly, those who "totally agree" that it's important to treat yourself also plan to spend an average of $935 on holiday gifts for others this year, compared to $755 from those who "somewhat agree" with the idea. Nearly three-quarters of those who think it's important to treat yourself say they are happy every day or most days.

"Consumers' money mantras affect everything from their gift giving to their personal happiness," said Tom O'Donnell, senior vice president, Chase. "The holiday season can cause people to step outside of their usual money management habits, reinforcing the notion that smart spending and borrowing habits are more important than ever at this time of the year. Whether spending on yourself or others, it's important to do it mindfully and with a plan in place."

Although the holidays are a time to give to others, the Chase Blueprint-AOL Holiday Money Mantra Survey found that 90 percent of Americans generally believe that, "it's important to treat yourself." In fact, those who say they "totally agree" that it's important to treat yourself (37 percent) are nearly four times as likely to say they will self-gift this holiday season than those who disagree. Parents are the least likely to self-gift, although one-in-four parents still said they will.

Perhaps self-gifters are on to something: Those who believe in treating themselves are more likely to be frequently happy than those who don't believe in giving to themselves. They're also less likely to have felt guilty within the past month: Only 59 percent felt guilty within the past month compared to 70 percent of those who don't believe in the importance of treating themselves.

The holidays are a time to give to others, and people still believe in this mantra during the holiday shopping season. According to the survey, the vast majority (94 percent) of Americans agree that "it's better to give than to receive," but, there are some key differences among respondents.

Women are more likely to totally endorse the idea of "it's better to give than to receive" than men (55 percent of women do versus 47 percent of men). Although women are more likely to give gifts to a wider range of recipients than men, men plan to spend a similar amount overall: women estimate they will spend $840.65 on gifts versus a planned $846.57 from men. There are also significant differences in spending depending on life stage:

-- A non-parent, who doesn't plan to have kids, plans to spend $572;

-- A non-parent, who plans to have children some day -- estimates they will spend $812;

-- A parent with kids still living at home plans to spend $939; and

-- An empty nester plans to spend $1,036 on holiday gifts. Nearly half of "gifters" love surprising people with their gift choices, and women are 38 percent more likely than men to totally agree with this. But others would rather just get it right than surprise their recipient: Three-in-five respondents agree they would rather buy a gift from someone's personal list than think of ideas on their own. Men are more inclined to agree with this sentiment than women (63 percent versus 55 percent).

In the spirit of a DIY holiday, a large amount of gifters plan to take things into their own hands: 45 percent say they're likely to make at least one homemade gift. Women are nearly twice as likely as men to do so (59 percent versus 31 percent). Millennials are 24 percent more likely to make a homemade gift than other generations.

About the Survey

The Chase Blueprint-AOL Money Mantra Survey is an online survey of a nationally representative, randomly selected sample of 1005 adults ages 25-64. It was conducted September 20-23, 2013. The margin of sample size error is 3.1 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence interval.

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