personal finance

16% of Americans Are Willing to Go Into Debt to Buy Holiday Presents for Their Kids

@5byseven via Twenty20

Some parents are willing to go to any lengths to secure the best holiday gifts for their kids, even if it means going into debt.

More than 1 in 10 Americans surveyed by coupon code search engine CouponFollow said they would spend beyond their means to get the "best gift" for the child in their lives, with 16% saying they would be willing to go into debt. Another 5% of respondents said they would physically fight another shopper to leave a store with a toy.

CouponFollow surveyed 1,085 people in the U.S. who self-reported their responses, with 22% aged 18 to 29, 28% aged 30 to 44, 30% aged 45 to 60 and 20% aged 60 or older.

Overall, respondents reported a willingness to spend a maximum of $173 on a single gift for a child. Fathers were more likely to spend more on a single gift than mothers, with an average response of $197 compared to the mothers' average response of $154.

Here's the maximum amount respondents said they would spend on a single gift, broken down by their average household income:

  • $0-$24,999: $131 on a single gift
  • $25,000-$49,999: $178 on a single gift
  • $50,000-$74,999: $146 on a single gift
  • $75,000-$99,999: $184 on a single gift
  • $100,000 and above: $231 on a single gift

With the hottest gifts, respondents said they would be willing to spend an average of 22% above retail price to put a choice present under the tree. They also said they would go to "the greatest lengths" to get their hands on Apple products, followed by video game systems and LEGO building blocks.

But no matter how popular a toy is, it's generally not a good idea to go into debt to buy it. Carrying a balance on your credit card is expensive and missing a payment can seriously harm your credit score.

"Even just a single late payment can do a lot of damage to your credit," Matt Schulz, a credit card expert at LendingTree, previously told CNBC Make It.

Consider setting up automatic payments to help manage debt, whether you are diligent in always paying off your entire balance or prefer to pay the minimum. Even the most diligent people can forget to pay their bills, and undoing the damage that a missed payment can cause could take months.

″[If you don't pay your full balance], maybe set it up to pay $200, just so you know that a payment will be made if you forget or if something happens," Schulz says.

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