Post-Divorce Tips for Surviving the Holidays on a Budget

Transitioning to a new budget following your divorce can be a real challenge, and the countdown is on! It’s quickly approaching that time of year where we live simultaneously in cheer and stress. What one big thing you can do to reduce that stress? Save money!  Budgeting is essential all year,  but it’s especially crucial during the holidays.  Try these money-saving tips for surviving the holidays on a budget! 

Related post: 5 Tips to Improve Your Post-Divorce Budget

Tips for Surviving the Holidays on a Budget

Make a list, check it twice, then stick to it!  

None of us wants to be a Scrooge, but does everyone you know really need a holiday gift?  Sit down and make a list of the people you plan to buy gifts for and the ones you can send a nice holiday card to.   Now recheck the list.  Is there anyone you remove without feeling like Jack Frost?  Now go through your final list and assign a realistic budget to each person (Even your children!  ESPECIALLY your children! Many of us have experienced the Cabbage Patch Kid or Tickle Me Elmo type of frenzy, where you would pretty much take out a second mortgage on your home to get whatever trending fad toy for your kid, only to find it growing dusty under the bed by New Year's.)

Take into account all your holiday expenses.

Holiday spending isn’t just about gifts. Surviving the holidays on a budget means taking into account all of your holiday expenses.  If you’re traveling to be with family, you’ll need to consider travel expenses, lodging, and food costs. Even if you’re staying in town, you will have to budget for decorations, holiday parties, and any charitable donations.

Consider alternatives to store-bought gifts.

Pinterest is full of great ideas for unique homemade gifts; you’d be surprised what could inspire you. Use a 40% off Michael’s coupon for supplies to further your savings.  Consider offering your services instead: a night of babysitting to an overworked parent who could use a night out, maybe gardening or running errands for a day for a friend or family member. There are lots of great alternatives to help survive the holidays on a budget. 

Avoid using credit cards.

Avoiding credit cards is key to surviving the holidays on a budget. It’s so easy to let your spending get out of hand and way over budget when you pay with a credit card.  Pay with cash when at all possible. If you have to pay with a card, set the money aside immediately, and plan to pay it right off. Also, avoid opening department store credit cards.  It can be very enticing to take advantage of the special offer or % off, but with extremely high-interest rates, that extra 30% you saved on your purchase is pointless if you don’t pay the full balance of the card each month.  

Shop early.

We are conditioned to think holiday shopping should start on Black Friday, but actually, you can take advantage of great deals all year long. It can be tough to think that far ahead, but you’ll be so happy you did when you not only saved money but can avoid the frenzy of holiday shopping and stress!

Talk to your family.

Surviving the holidays on a budget can be a lot easier if you talk with your loved ones. If you have a large family, it could be very cost-effective to do a secret Santa gift exchange instead of buying gifts for every person.  Some families op to exchange gifts for the children and leave the adults off the list. Think about taking a holiday family vacation instead. This could be tough if you have young children, but for teens and adults, this could create a very memorable experience.

Related post: Talking to Your Family Members at the Holidays About Your Divorce

Don’t give in to emotional buying impulses.

This is a difficult one! We’ve all purchased a “few” last-minute items but sticking to your list and budget is crucial. What about the neighbor or acquaintance who surprises you with an unexpected lavish gift while you bought them nothing? Write them a heartfelt thank you note. How about last-minute list add on’s from your child? Explain that Santa’s elves have already made all the toys for this season.  But seriously, control yourself from purchasing more than you budgeted for, even with your children.  

The holidays should be a time to create happy memories. Memories aren’t made of material things but by life experiences. Think back to your childhood- do you remember every present you received or do you remember lighting the menorah or decorating the tree with your family?  This holiday season, make time to enjoy the moments with your family and friends. That’s what it’s all about anyway, right?

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