69 percent of Americans wish they could skip holiday gift giving

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ATLANTA - Nearly 7 in 10 Americans say they would skip exchanging gifts this holiday season if friends and family agreed to it.

That's according to a new online survey conducted by Harris Poll.

Forty-three percent said they feel pressured to spend more than they can afford. If they didn't have to buy or make gifts, 25 percent said they'd use the money on activities with friends and family, 37 percent would pay down debt, 47 percent would save or invest, and 60 percent said they would spend more time with friends and family.

"The holidays are full of joy, celebration and an unmentioned pressure to spend," Brian Nelson Ford, financial well-being executive at SunTrust, said in a statement. Harris Poll conducted the survey for SunTrust. "During a time of year when financial stress is traditionally high, a little smart spending, preparation and planning can lead to financial confidence and enhance the joy of the season."

They recommend five steps to keep control over your finances in the middle of the pressure to spend:

  1. Identify Values: Recognizing what's important can help you prioritize where money should be spent. Categories include time with kids, playing sports, financing a child's education, date nights, family trips and more.
  2. Create a Confidence Account: A well-funded savings account will make you feel more confident in other areas of life. This account is the foundation for achieving your goals. Consider automating the savings process, which is the best way to consistently put money aside.
  3. Build a Budget that Works: A budget can be liberating if it is aligned with your values. A key step on the road to financial confidence is directing spending to the things that matter most.
  4. Invest for Happiness Now and in the Future: Accumulating wealth isn't just about a comfortable retirement; it's about having the financial resources to do what you love now and in the future.
  5. Maximizing Money-Making: Once you've begun investing in your financial future, it's time to invest in yourself. Identify ways to maximize your earnings potential and explore how you can give more back to others who may not be as far down the road to financial confidence.

This survey was conducted online within the United States from Oct. 3-5, 2017, among 2,185 U.S. adults ages 18 and up. Among those, 1,986 spend money on something specifically related to the holidays.

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