Article written by Jackie Porter
The holiday season is supposed to be filled with love and joy. However, after a recent divorce, you may not be feeling particularly "merry and bright." Just remember, while you may feel pressured to go above and beyond to make this holiday extra special for you and your family, the most wonderful time of the year doesn't have to be the most expensive.
Guilt-Driven Holiday Spending:
Following a divorce, you may feel pressure to increase your holiday spending to ensure a happy holiday. If you have children, feelings of guilt from the divorce may even be driving you to spoil them with extra gifts. A word of caution...a guilty conscience may end up setting you back financially this holiday season.
First, it is important to remember that you have nothing to feel guilty about. Children are resilient. They may still be working through their emotions surrounding the divorce, but they don't need extra presents underneath the tree. All they need is your love and support.
Secondly, consider your overall financial position. It is normal to have to rebuild your finances following a divorce. So before you splurge on something you normally wouldn't to assuage your guilt, ask yourself these questions. Can you afford to take on additional debt at this time? Is it the best course of action?
Don't let those dollar signs dampen your holiday spirit. Read on for the Top 5 Post-Divorce Holiday Spending Tips.
Start A New Chapter:
For many families, the holidays represent a time of tradition. Whether it be elaborate meals or special activities, the cost can start to add up. You may be tempted to go all out if you sense the emotional toll the divorce has taken on your children. Don't be afraid to take this time to start a new chapter for all of you. You don't have to sacrifice all the traditions you've grown accustomed to, but maybe there are some cheaper alternatives you can work into your holiday routine. It is never too late to start new traditions and build new memories you and your children can share.
Time to Tighten the Belt on Holiday Spending:
Getting a divorce can really open your eyes to your financial situation. You may find your expenses have increased since you are no longer splitting your bills. Regardless of the reason, money might be tight this holiday season. Take this time to rework your budget. Cut out as much needless spending as possible as you rebuild your savings and adapt to your new normal. This might mean cutting down on your holiday spending this year. We aren't saying this is forever, but tightening the belt today can help ensure a more financially stable tomorrow.
Make a List and Check it Twice:
Santa Claus knew what he was doing when he made a list and checked it twice. And that is exactly what you need to do this holiday season. Add up your income. Write down the annual expenses associated with your new lifestyle including funds for unexpected spending such as car repairs or maintenance on your home. Now consider what you plan to spend on gifts over the next year (birthdays, Christmas, and other special occasions) and attach a number you are comfortable spending annually.
Once you've made your list, and checked it twice (maybe even three times), look at what you can afford for holiday spending. For example, if you decided you are willing to spend $1000 annually on gifts, you can't blow it all on your holiday spending. Is it really worth it to go into debt for a few extra stocking stuffers? A great way to ensure you don't blow your budget on holiday spending is to write down everything you plan on buying and the expected cost. This will help keep you on track and point out where you might need to make changes.
Love Don’t Cost a Thing:
Sometimes some of the best memories of the holidays don’t involve presents. Your kids may simply be grateful to be spending time with you. As well, everyone is likely looking forward to happier times together now that the divorce is over.
There are plenty of activities that won’t create a big dent in your pocketbook. Perhaps dinner and a movie of their choice at home, or going for a holiday hike. Maybe even try some holiday baking for a sweet (and affordable) memory. Showing love doesn’t always have to come with a hefty price tag.
Since the pandemic, online shopping has never been easier. You can have your holiday gifts shipped to you in a matter of days...and already gift wrapped! Careful of this clicking convenience. Be mindful of your time looking at items online so you are not tempted to purchase extra gifts that aren't on your list.
The holidays can still be the most wonderful time of the year post-divorce. But don't let them be the most expensive.