The holidays can be very difficult for people who are recently divorced. Not only can they feel lonely and overwhelmed but the stressful financial demands of the season can be particularly upsetting to someone dealing with a new personal and economic situation.
To prevent finances from causing unnecessary strain on your holidays (and the months that follow), consider this:
- Have a budget – After a divorce, your monthly finances may look very different. Before you agree to vacations, secret Santa exchanges, or hosting family dinners, take stock of your financial situation. Make a budget, then stick to it to avoid overspending. This article from Forbes offers other helpful recommendations when it comes to holiday shopping.
- Don’t try to one-up your ex – Parents often feel inclined to try and “win” the holidays with their kids. They want to give the biggest and/or most numerous gifts to their children to outdo the other parent. But these efforts do not create winners; they just make the holidays more stressful for everyone. Rather than trying to one-up the other parent, focus on what you can do to make the holidays the best they can be for you and your children. If your relationship with your ex is amicable, consider meeting to discuss the divvying up of your children’s wish lists.
- Think outside the (big) box (store) – After a divorce, it pays to get creative. If you can’t celebrate the way you used to as a family, start new traditions. If you can’t spend as much on gifts as you’d like, look on sites like Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist for gently used items, or consider making homemade gifts to add meaning and additional sentiment to the holiday.
- Say no (it gets easier with practice) – There can be massive demands on people during the holidays. Shouldering these burdens alone and trying to do everything yourself can be expensive, exhausting and, quite simply, impossible. Don’t assume you must say “yes” to everything. Allow yourself the freedom to say “no” to social obligations you don’t want to attend; let someone else host the family holiday party this year; have your presents gift wrapped to free up your time. Forget about the cookies, or the light show, or the caroling… Don’t overextend. If you do, you’ll likely spend Christmas Eve in bed with the flu.
We hope these suggestions help make the holidays a little easier as you adjust to your new life and put the jingle back in single!