Can the Holidays be Affordable?
The holiday season is upon us with all of its beauty, tradition and unreal expectations. It can be a stressful time for even the most grounded person. For someone newly divorced and still sorting out their new life, the challenges that the holiday season imposes can add a whole new level of stress if one doesn’t meet those challenges head on.
It’s the financial impact of the holidays that we want to address today. Buying presents, decorating and entertaining can put a big hole in your budget if you are not careful. It can turn out to be a holiday hangover that lasts until summer. Meet the holiday spending challenge head on by getting a grasp on how much you can reasonably spend above and beyond your normal day-to-day spending. Follow that up with a holiday spending worksheet listing all the added expenses, including presents, cards, decorations, groceries, clothing, charitable donations, travel and dining out. Divide up your holiday spending dollars amongst the items on your list. Now, prioritize your spending by putting the most important holiday items at the top of your spending list. Focus on purchasing the high priority items first. If high priority items, like presents or travel expenses, end up costing more than you budgeted, you will need to cut back on the low priority items.
When it comes to presents, the holidays call for cooperation rather than competition. Trying to outdo your ex-spouse, particularly with the presents, is only going to add to the holiday stress. Share with your ex-spouse what you intend to buy and the things you know your child wants. Since it is likely that your child is going to celebrate Christmas twice, each spouse might want to agree to buy smaller items. If your child just has to have a really expensive item, considers splitting the cost.
This is your opportunity to make new traditions. Look for ways to celebrate the holidays that focus on togetherness rather spending. Making cookies and homemade decorations, or helping out a charity, can all be done for minimal cost while instilling what the spirit of the season is really about.
Avoid the holiday blues by approaching them with the right attitude. Look on the bright side, now is your chance to get rid of those awful holiday traditions of your ex-spouse. Here is your chance to start new traditions that truly reflect what you value and what you want your family to remember for years to come.
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