I saw a figure last week that caught my eye — holiday shoppers in the U.S. spent about $7.9 billion on Cyber Monday this year, including $2 billion just on smartphones. As of close of business that day, shoppers had already spent a whopping $58.5 billion online so far for this holiday season.

To put that money in perspective, this year’s midterm elections were the most expensive on record, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, with $5.2 billion spent. That easily outpaces the previous election spending record of $4.4 billion in 2016.

I certainly take comfort in the fact that we’re spending more money on presents than politics. Nevertheless, these holiday spending numbers got me wondering how my spending compares with others on a national basis. Am I spending more or less than the average Christmas shopper? Do I need to adjust what I feel comfortable spending?

I suspect most parents, my wife and me included, face the dilemma of how much to shell out for our kids. We want them to have fun and memorable experiences ripping open presents on Christmas morning and having their faces light up when they get what they wanted. At the same time, we have to balance that with realistic expectations and not rack up credit card debt that we’ll be paying off long after the winter snow melts.

The National Retail Federation expects Americans to spend an average of $1,007 this season. That’s a 4 percent uptick from last year. Although some of that spending will be on food, decorations, and Christmas cards, the lion’s share goes toward presents.

Not to sound cheap or like the proverbial Scrooge, but a thousand bucks is a lot of money to me. Granted, as my kids have gotten older and their wish lists started to include electronics, mobile phones, and other items with hefty price tags, we’ve had to increase our Christmas budget.

Even still, $1K per adult is a good chunk of money to fork over for gifts. I guess with the law of averages, that means other parents are going to be spending a lot more than we will.

Brett Martin is a community columnist who’s been a Shakopee resident for over 15 years.


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