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Holiday Stress

A survey conducted for Intuit/Quicken by Roper Starch says three out of four Americans will experience financial stress this year paying holiday bills. The study projects Americans will spend $816 this year per adult or about $160 billion on holiday gifts, an increase of 7% over 1996. Intuit advises consumers to reduce stress by lowering their credit card interest rate via

Forget about Wall Street jitters. Americans are already feeling pressure from the year’s next financial roller coaster ride — holiday spending. Three out of four Americans expect to experience financial stress when it comes time to pay the holiday bills, according to a recent survey conducted by Quicken(R), America’s #1 personal finance software and survey organization, Roper Starch. Not surprisingly, families with children anticipate the highest level of financial stress.

While Americans continue to struggle with holiday stress and spending, the Quicken/Roper Starch survey found that most say their spending behavior will be in the spirit of Santa Claus, not Scrooge. Americans expect to spend an average of $816 this holiday season, totaling more than $160 billion in overall purchases. This is an increase of 7% from the estimated $764 that consumers spent on holiday gifts in 1996, according to the National Retail Federation.

Who is doing the spending? If you think women spend more, surprise! Men expect to spend 33% more than women, while Americans living in the South expect to spend less than those in the North and West.

To help get a handle on holiday finances and keep stress in check, advisors from, the award-winning personal finance Website, offer the following tips:

* Get organized. Set a budget, and stick to it. Personal finance software, like Quicken Deluxe 98, can help you easily plan your finances in advance, and help you stay organized. For example, Quicken can help you create a holiday budget, and show you how much you have spent on items such as gifts, dining and entertainment.

* Plan your shopping in advance. Know what you want to buy, and for whom, before you leave for the mall. Avoid shopping for the sake of shopping, and resist any impulse purchases. Don’t shop when you’re tired, hungry, or feel pressured.

* Find ways to reduce monthly expenses. The more you’re able to save on significant expenses like insurance and mortgage, the easier it will be to make the holidays affordable. Quicken Deluxe 98 and offer apples-to-apples comparisons from top national lenders and insurance firms, to help you find great rates.

* Never borrow more than you can reasonably pay off. Giving gifts should be a gesture, not a sacrifice. Leave yourself some borrowing capacity for emergencies.

* Reduce your credit card interest rate. If you must carry a balance on your credit cards, can help you find credit cards with lower interest rates. Check out the Banking and Borrowing department at

* Get more for your money, online. The web can be a great place to find a special item without spending time on the road or in the parking lot. Websites like (for books) provide a wealth of choices at attractive prices — and they deliver!

The survey findings presented in this report are based on interviews with a random cross-section of 1,016 adult Americans, ages 18 and older.

About Intuit

Intuit Inc., a financial software and Web-based services company, develops and markets Quicken, the leading personal finance software; TurboTax(R), the best-selling tax preparation software; and QuickBooks(R), the most popular small business accounting software. Intuit’s Web site offers a complete set of personal finance news, information, and tools, including the leading mutual fund and insurance sites.

NOTE: Intuit, the Intuit logo, Quicken, QuickBooks, TurboTax, MacInTax, ProSeries, Pocket Quicken and EasyStep, among others, are registered trademarks and/or registered service marks of Intuit Inc. in the United States and other countries. BankNOW, NETworth, Investor Insight, Quicken Financial Planner, QFN, Quicken Financial Network and InsureMarket, among others, are trademarks and/or service marks of Intuit Inc., or one of its subsidiaries, in the United States and other countries. Other brands or products are trademarks, service marks, registered trademarks, or registered service marks of their respective holders and should be treated as such.

                          HOLIDAY SURVEY FACT SHEET

    Survey findings ...

    * "Season's Stress."  3 out of 4 Americans anticipate feeling financial
stress this holiday season.
       * Men: 71%
       * Women: 78%

       With Children
       * Have Children: 84%
       * Do Not Have Children: 68%

    * "Big Spenders."  The average American will spend about $816 this coming
holiday season.
       * Men: $937
       * Women: $703

       * 18-24: $559
       * 25-34: $923
       * 35-44: $960
       * 45-54: $804
       * 55-64: $1,025
       * 65+:   $565

       With Children
       * Have Children: $929
       * Do Not Have Children: $565

    * "Santa or Scrooge?"  7 out of 10 Americans believe their spending habits
will be in the spirit of Santa Claus this holiday season.
       * Men: 62%
       * Women: 77%

       * Under 45: 76%
       * 45+:      65%

       With Children
       * Have Children: 78%
       * Do Not Have Children: 65%

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