The Real Scrooge This Season? Unforeseen Holiday Expenses!

The Western Union Company (NYSE:WU), a leader in global payments, found in a recent survey conducted with Wakefield Research that 48 percent of those surveyed reported they were over-budget last year, largely due to unforeseen holiday expenses. More than a third of consumers, 36 percent, had unforeseen expenses that sabotaged their holiday budgets.

The most significant unforeseen expenses include parking costs, gas, greeting cards and postage. The survey also revealed that 57 percent of parents overspend during the holidays, perhaps due to over-indulging on little ones, compared to 41 percent of non-parents who exceed their holiday budgets.

Giving the gift of CASH is an effective way for gift-givers to help avoid those unforeseen costs that come along with the holidays, allowing them to better manage their holiday-related expenses. By gifting with cash, holiday gift-givers avoid additional, unplanned expenses while ensuring that their recipients get what they really want and need. Of those surveyed, 67 percent say some of the money they would save by avoiding unforeseen expenses would be deposited into a savings account, while 40 percent say they would use it to pay off holiday bills and 29 percent would give some of the money to charity.

According to the survey, more than half of consumers, 52 percent, will give money to their loved ones this year because they think their family and friends could use it, given the state of the economy. That’s up sharply from last year’s 44 percent of consumers who felt the same way about gifting with cash.

“Expenses pop up where we least expect them during the holiday season as consumers are making the trek to and from the stores,” said Victoria López-Negrete, Senior Vice President and GM, U.S. Money Transfer Product Management, Western Union. “Giving the gift of cash helps consumers avoid many additional expenses associated with in-store and online shopping and gift-giving, and ensures that loved ones receiving cash are getting what they want most for the holidays.”

Giving the gift of cash makes it easier for consumers to manage holiday budgets and avoid accumulating holiday debt, which can benefit household finances well beyond the holidays. According to the survey, 75 percent of consumers responded that it could take anywhere from less than a month to a half of a year to pay off holiday debt.

To facilitate gift-giving this holiday season while helping consumers stay within their budgets, Western Union is offering “$50 for $5.” Consumers can send up to $50 to loved ones in the U.S. for five dollars, or send a Western Union® gift card with a personalized greeting card and voice message, available exclusively at

In the spirit of giving this holiday season, Western Union and Grammy-Award winning recording artist John Legend have joined forces for 50 Days of Giving, a national campaign designed to help raise charitable-giving awareness. Western Union announced an initial total of $100,000 in grants to benefit Boys & Girls Clubs of America, CARE USA, Mercy Corps, Save the Children and The U.S. Fund for UNICEF. Western Union and John Legend also unveiled, an online voting site designed to encourage consumers to take an active role in supporting one of the five charities this holiday season. The organization receiving the most votes online by December 25 will receive an additional $150,000 grant from Western Union.

* The Western Union® Gift Card is issued by MetaBank™ pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. INC. MetaBank; Member FDIC. A $2.50 per month servicing fee applies after 12 consecutive months of non-use.

The survey, commissioned by Western Union and conducted by Wakefield Research polled 1,000 nationally representative American adults aged 18 years old and older between October 1 and October 6, 2010.

About Western Union

The Western Union Company (NYSE: WU) is a leader in global payment services. Together with its Vigo, Orlandi Valuta, Pago Facil and Western Union Business Solutions branded payment services, Western Union provides consumers and businesses with fast, reliable and convenient ways to send and receive money around the world, as well as send payments and purchase money orders. The Western Union, Vigo and Orlandi Valuta branded services are offered through a combined network of approximately 435,000 agent locations in 200 countries and territories. In 2009, The Western Union Company completed 196 million consumer-to-consumer transactions worldwide, moving $71 billion of principal between consumers, and 415 million business payments. For more information, visit


Nov 29, 2010