Holiday Shopping and Debt

With Thanksgiving over, and everyone now sick of turkey, thoughts now turn to Christmas and Hanukkah. If your finances are tight, this can be the cause of a lot of stress and concern. The holidays are an expensive time of year, with the purchase of gifts, holiday parties, and travel. If you are in the midst of a bankruptcy, or considering one, there are a few things to keep in mind.

First of all, don't let it ruin your holidays! I always say financial problems are temporary, but the important moments in life are forever. You should still buy gifts if that is something you like to do, even if they must be modest gifts. It truly is the thought that counts. Gifts can be homemade, or an activity, or even a card with some kind words. The holidays really are not about money, as much as retailers would want you to believe otherwise. Don't get caught up with spending for the sake of spending.

If possible, you should avoid large credit card purchases during the holidays. Credit cards are the most common method for buying gifts. If you are in Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you should not be using credit cards. Hopefully, you will have money put aside in these circumstances. If you are planning to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you should avoid large purchases of over $500, as this could cause your case filing to be delayed. Large purchases or cash advances leading up to bankruptcy could result in a creditor objecting to your filing as abusive. Keep your attorney informed to make sure there is no problem.

Holiday travel can also be tricky, as credit cards are often used in travel, especially with hotel rooms and air travel. Once again, you shouldn't completely put your life on hold because of financial difficulties. But, if you have to travel and incur significant credit card expenses, let your attorney know. Delaying your case filing is always an option if need be. Or, this may be the year to have friends and relatives come to you. Better days are ahead, you'll be able to travel again, even if you can't now.

If you feel overwhelmed by holiday shopping while facing a tight financial situation, sit down and write out a holiday budget. I always tell people it is easier to get a grasp of your finances when you actually write things out and look at them on paper. Figure out who you really need to buy gifts for, and who you really don't. Yes, buy your children and grand-children gifts. But, you probably don't need to buy gifts for your adult nephew or neighbor. When you come up with a budget, you will feel less overwhelmed. The holidays don't need to be synonymous with debt.

The holidays are a great time of year to reconnect with friends and family, and to be generous. They are also a very stressful time of year for many people. Don't let your holidays be ruined by your current situation. Hard times are temporary. Plan accordingly, and enjoy your holidays!