When you're out shopping for your holiday gifts, do you ever wonder what everyone else is getting for each other? The Labor Department keeps a detailed survey of how Americans spend their money and has a good idea. Below is their snapshot of all $135 billion Americans spent on gifts in 2013.
That doesn't mean people are putting tuition checks under Christmas trees or handing them out in birthday cars; the BLS classifies purchases made for someone outside of a "consumer unit" a gift. When parents pay for tuition for their children living outside the home, that's a gift (but when the student lives at home, it's not). Really what this shows is a full-year look at how generous Americans are with spending on each other.
That means many of the things we buy each other to put under the tree — toys, clothes, jewelry — are dwarfed by big, costly "gifts" like tuition or helping someone buy a house.
You might not think of tuition as a "gift" in the traditional sense, but with $1.1 trillion in student debt and climbing, a tuition check probably sounds like one hell of a gift to a lot of college students right now.