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Divorce, the Winter Holidays, & Your Finances

The winter season encompasses many cultural and religious holidays that can quickly empty a parent’s wallet. This scenario rings particularly true for the recently or soon-to-be divorced. When children are struggling to accept the new status quo, parents tend to be extra generous when it comes to buying gifts. However, if you’re still feeling the financial strain of your divorce, you may want to reconsider how many presents you’re stuffing under the Christmas tree.

It may be the “season of giving,” but you still need to properly manage your finances—especially if you’re still recovering from your divorce. To help you plan your holiday expenses, the New Port Richey divorce lawyer at Dale L. Bernstein, Chartered Law Office has prepared the following financial tips:

Tip #1: Don’t Try to Recreate the Past

After a divorce, it’s normal for parents and children to feel a little glum as popular family holidays creep closer and closer. After all, depending on your child custody arrangement, you may not even see your children on Christmas Day. Many parents try to offset their guilt by trying to recreate or surpass past holidays. They want this first Christmas to be so special that their child forgets to be sad. This can be an incredibly expensive venture, especially if you’re living off a single paycheck. Plus, trying to recreate the past only highlights what’s already been lost. This isn’t healthy for you, your children, or your bank account. Instead of throwing money around to improve everyone’s emotions, your time is better spent discovering new holiday traditions.

Tip #2: Plan Out Your Budget

It’s not unusual for divorcées to struggle financially once the divorce decree has been issued. Before you swipe that credit card, you need to thoroughly assess your financial situation and make a realistic holiday plan. By releasing your expectations of what the holidays “should be,” you can instead invent new traditions that truly make your children happy.

It’s time to embrace your inner nerd! Sit down and complete a spreadsheet that lists what you can afford to spend without going into debt. It might lead to a headache, but you need to include everything: Christmas cards, gift budgets, food, traveling expenses, decorations, etc. Once you’ve completed this list, it’s important to actually stick to it. If you can, look for special deals and Christmas discounts. Utilizing these deals can leave you with more money to spend on presents or other special holiday items. 

Tip #3: Plan the Holidays with Your Kids

Parents spend a lot of money trying to make their children happy. However, instead of throwing money at different ideas and hoping one earns a genuine smile, you can actively include your children in the holiday planning process. Your children have likely experienced enough surprises and changes in the last few months. You can provide them with an essential sense of stability by letting them have a measure of control over this emotionally-challenging holiday season. Your children won’t feel sad or uncertain if they know where they’re going, what they’re doing, and how many gifts they’re going to be receiving. Plus, this can help you build new traditions that cater to your children’s actual interests. You might be planning expensive adventures and gifts when all your children want is to go ice skating or watch movies with you.

Tip #4: Don’t Compete with Your Ex

Surprisingly, this is one of the toughest tips on the list. Let’s be honest: you want this first holiday season to be special for your children…and you probably won’t cry if your gifts and plans surpass your ex’s. You’ve spent months fighting, negotiating, and compromising with your former spouse. It’s completely normal for some of those negative divorce feelings to linger. Resist your competitive urges! Temporary satisfaction isn’t worth the cost—and we mean that literally! You could easily spend thousands of dollars trying to “win” Christmas when your priority should be your children. They can’t enjoy their presents or experiences if they’re inadvertently being used as weapons.

 You and your ex need to focus on providing a safe and positive emotional environment for your children. Even if it’s difficult, you need to put on a smile and let your children know it’s okay to talk about their other parent. It’s not about winning or competing, it’s about co-parenting. If you have an amicable relationship with your ex, you can coordinate plans, pitch-in on pricey gifts, and make sure that your children can enjoy spending the holiday with both of their parents.

Schedule a Consultation Today

If you’re planning to file for divorce or need a parenting plan modification, contact Dale L. Bernstein, Chartered Law Office. Our New Port Richey divorce attorney has a comprehensive understanding of divorce and family law and can help you negotiate or renegotiate your parenting plan.

Contact Dale L. Bernstein, Chartered Law Office at (727) 312-1112 to schedule a consultation.

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