The holiday season can be pretty expensive, no matter holiday you happen to be celebrating. Whether it involves buying presents, traveling, or entertaining, this time of year can put a major hurt on your wallet or bank account. Old St. Nick doesn't help out as much as we were previously led to believe.
Things get even trickier when you are in a bankruptcy, or at least considering one. Does this mean you need to Grinch-out and not take part in any festivities? No! But, you should keep some things in mind while enjoying yourself.
1. Cash is king
Using credit cards is a major "no-no" in bankruptcy and leading up to bankruptcy. Unfortunately for many, using credit cards is the primary way of financing gift giving and travel during the holidays. So you may need to make some compromises and postpone any large holiday blowouts. If you absolutely must use a credit card, you should discuss delaying your case with your attorney.
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2. Don't go overboard on gifts
A good way to control your holiday spending is limiting your gift list. This doesn't mean you need to tell your kids Santa is skipping your house this year. But, you probably don't need to buy gifts for adult nieces and nephews, neighbors, cousins, your Mom's new boyfriend Todd...you get the picture. This doesn't mean you are being an Ebenezer Scrooge. That guy was rich; he should have been way more generous from the start. Your finances are currently tight, no one will think less of you (nor will you likely be visited by three ghosts).
3. Stay close to home
You may also need to curtail holiday traveling this year, if it involves incurring major expenses. If you have to travel, limit expenses by staying with a friend or family member instead of in a hotel. This isn't the year to visit long-lost relatives in Europe.
4. Pass on hosting duties
Holiday entertaining can also be an expensive proposition. If your budget is really tight, this may be the year you attend other parties rather than hosting. Bringing some snacks and eggnog to your friend's party is a lot cheaper than hosting 40 people on New Year's Eve.
If you absolutely cannot avoid holiday expenses in the midst of bankruptcy, make sure you are clear about the details with your attorney. It is always possible to delay filing, and he or she will guide you through the process. But, there is no reason to ruin your holiday because of temporary financial difficulties.