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How to manage the Cost-of-Christmas Crisis

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

But it’s also one of the most expensive.

The Cost of Christmas Crisis, as it has been coined, is taking its toll again this year. Recent research from easymoney has revealed that people are cutting down on their Christmas spending this year, as the cost-of-living crisis has an ongoing impact. 59% of us are looking to make cuts this year, with 55% of respondents stating that whilst they usually have an extra savings pot put aside for Christmas, they have saved less than planned.

Financial Planner Jodie Phelps has put together some top tips on how to manage your money in the Cost of Christmas Crisis when the purse strings are tighter than ever.

  • Be aware of the potential for emotional spending during the holidays. Stay mindful of your emotions and instead of using retail therapy as a coping mechanism write a list of other things you enjoy doing so when you feel yourself about to spend do the other things on your list instead (eg. take a bath, go for a run, call a friend)
  • BUT, recognise the emotional challenges that may arise during the holidays and prioritise self-care; allocate budget for activities that bring you joy and contribute to your well-being
  • Develop a budget that reflects your changed financial circumstances and keep track of your spending
  • Create a list of people you want to buy gifts for and allocate a specific amount for each person
  • Consider creative and thoughtful gifts that don’t necessarily have to be expensive (eg. photo collages, scrap books, experiences). Remember, the holidays are about spending time with loved ones and creating meaningful memories, not just about the gifts.
  • If you have a large family or friend group, consider setting limits on the amount spent on gifts or participating in a Secret Santa
  • Plan your holiday meals in advance and create a shopping list. This can help you avoid last-minute, impulse food purchases/takeaways
  • Be mindful of impulse purchases, especially when faced with holiday sales and promotions
  • Look for discounts, compare prices, and consider using cashback or price-tracking tools to find the best deals
  • After the holidays, review your spending and assess what worked well and what didn’t. Use this information to plan for the next holiday season.
  • Make a note of your Christmas pay date when budgeting, as it’s usually earlier in December. Plan for the long stretch between Christmas pay day and January pay day
  • Start saving a monthly amount for next Christmas so that next year you have money allocated for you to enjoy Christmas.

You can find out more about Jodie on her LinkedIn.

Relationship Tensions

Financial tensions are a huge driver in divorce enquiries, and in a survey that we conducted, 60% of respondents said that the crisis was negatively affecting their relationship.

If you do find that tensions around money build between you and your partner around this time of year, here are some suggestions on how to safeguard your relationship at Christmas. It’s important to remember that Christmas does not cause divorce and relationship breakdown. However, it can expose pre-existing issues, so getting to the root of the problem is very important.

Stowe Solicitor Abi Jones has some top tips on reducing tensions around the festive season:

  • Communicate – communication is central to healthy relationships and talking through your worries with your partner can help to alleviate pressure
  • Lean on friends or family members outside of your relationship for support if needed
  • Figure out where your priorities are, and if they are different to your partner’s
  • If you have differing priorities, try to compromise and find where your middle ground lies
  • Consider speaking to a financial planner or another professional – you can find our recommended partners in our Divorce Directory
  • Try to focus on the positives, even if they seem insignificant. Small changes can make big differences over time
  • Come up with interesting ways to celebrate this time of year together without the pressure of money
  • Try to have some time together. Christmas can be a very busy time so spending time with each other is essential. It does not have to be big or expensive. It could be as simple as having a movie night together when the children are in bed.

First Christmas After Separation

Abi discusses how to manage your first Christmas after separation.

It may be that this is your first Christmas after divorce or relationship breakdown. If this is the case, you may be more worried about money than you usually are as you may well have gone from a dual income household to single income. Not only this, but the routine and traditions of the day may also suddenly be different.

  • Create experiences, rather than physical gifts
  • Downsize your giving
  • Use second-hand website such as Vinted or ebay
  • Do Secret Santa instead of buying gifts for everyone
  • Make home-made gifts
  • Keep the celebrations small
  • Don’t be tempted by payday loans, as this may cause more issues later on
  • If you have young children, toy appeals may be available. Certain charities have toy appeals where individuals can donate toys which are then distributed between families
  • Try not to compare your Christmas to others, either of your past or other people’s
  • Manage the expectations of any children – let them know that change is normal but ensure they are informed of what changes, scheduling, what will be happening, where and when.

Remember that Christmas is one day. There is a great deal of pressure for Christmas Day to be perfect, but it is just one day in the year.

Think about how you want to spend your Christmas. Would you like to spend it with a friend, with family or even alone. This is an opportunity to make new traditions.

Lastly, Christmas does not necessarily have to take place on 25th December. If this is the first year you do not have the children after going through a divorce or separation you can always pause your Christmas until the day after or have it before.

Useful Links

Financial Wellbeing with Jodie Phelps or watch on YouTube

Surviving Christmas after Separation

Child arrangements at Christmas

Christmas alone with divorce and break-up coach Claire Macklin

Budgeting solo during a cost-of-living crisis: Listen on Spotify or Watch on YouTube

Supporting children through divorce: Listen on Spotify

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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