Indians prefer cash over gifts: Survey

51% Indians feel that gifting cash also helps manage festival-related expenses including the unforeseen costs associated with physical purchases

When it comes to festival gifting, Indians don't practice what they preach. According to an independent global gifting survey conducted by Wakefield Research and commissioned by Western Union, India is the most fiscally responsible country surveyed with  72 % spending more than they had budgeted. Survey found that people are more alike than different when it comes to festival shopping, saving money, and wanting to please their loved ones.

Indians are resilient, even though they haven't adhered to budgets in the last festival season, 87 % still plan to make a budget for future festival gifting. The pressure to find the perfect gift for loved ones gets to Indians and their budgeting, as it does for people from Brazil, Germany, Mexico, South Africa, UAE, UK and US.

Indians don't gift in the same spirit as they prefer.  More than half of Indians (51%) would rather receive a cash gift of Rs1000 over a physical gift of the same value.  However, when Indians eventually gift to family and loved ones, a majority (65%) opt for a physical gift at the risk of overspending.

Indians most like to make the lives of their children (36%), mum (26%) and dad (13%) better, over spoiling their significant other (4%).  This in in contrast to all the other countries surveyed which gave greater priority to making their significant others' lives better (13-31%).

"Indians may not have to empty their pockets to find the perfect gift after all," said Kiran Shetty, regional Vice President, Western Union India.

"Giving cash is an easy way for gift givers to make their loved one's day better allowing them to purchase what they really want and need.  Gifting cash also helps better manage festival-related expenses including the unforeseen costs associated with physical purchases — gift choice, transportation, wrapping and overall time constraints," he said.

According to the survey, only 28% spent exactly or less than what they had budgeted, and 72% exceeded their budget. Here are the highlights of the survey.

Budget Blueprint: More Indians are planning ahead when it comes to their future festival spending; 87% plan on making a budget.

Busted Budgets: Indians may have good intentions, but many don't think they'll necessarily stick to a budget this year; 68% said they will spend more money than they have budgeted to find the perfect gift.

Festivals dilemmas: Finding the perfect gift (21%) was the number one worry among Indians. Overspending (18%) is also high on the list, tied for second with seeing family (18%). Other top concerns include eating too much or being unhealthy (13%), and work commitments (12%).

Cash anytime: Over half of Indians (51%) would rather have Rs 1000 in cash than a gift worth Rs 1000. Despite this, more than two-thirds (65%) are — mistakenly — not likely to be gifting cash to those on their gift lists.

Thrifty Thinking: Festival expenses add up quickly, and 88% of Indians are cutting back on luxuries to meet them. In particular, many will avoid spending on clothing (45%), eating at restaurants (38%), and spending on entertainment (37%).

Responsible receivers: Those that get what they wish for — cold hard cash — would most likely spend it wisely. Saving or investing it (31%) is the top way Indians would spend their festival cash. This is followed by using it for festival-related spending other than gifts (24%), using it to buy a gift for someone else (17%), and donating it to charity (12%).

Community giving: Despite the financial stress the festival season can sometimes bring, 65% are planning on donating to a charity. Most Indians prefer to donate clothing (34%), cash (32%), food (23%) and time (9%).

The survey, commissioned by Western Union and conducted by Wakefield Research polled nationally representative adults aged 18 years and older between September 21 and October 21, 2011 in the following countries: 1,000 respondents in the U.S., 500 respondents in Mexico, 500 respondents in Germany, 500 respondents in India, 500 respondents in Brazil, 500 respondents in the UAE, 500 respondents in S. Africa, and 500 respondents in the U.K.

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