Halloween is past, Thanksgiving is upon us, and the gift-giving celebrations are just weeks away. What most people think of as the most joyful and festive time of year can feel like sheer misery when you’re deeply in debt, as every aspect of the holidays seems to have a price tag attached. Whether you’ve just filed for bankruptcy or are about to file your papers, the process creates a shift in the way that you have to think – and in what you’re able to spend. Bankruptcy does represent an adjustment, but it does not have to ruin your holiday season. Here’s what you need to know to make sure that you’re managing things properly, as well as some suggestions for having a happy holiday despite your financial situation.

  • If you’re about to file for bankruptcy, don’t make the mistake of charging a bunch of holiday gifts for your loved ones. As disappointing as it may be to them – and to you – any expenses that you tack on to your credit cards within 90 days of filing are going to be reviewed by your bankruptcy trustee and will be either left off of your list of dischargeable debts or else given back, depending upon what they are. As bad as it feels to have to skip the toy store or forego buying jewelry or other extravagant gifts, it would feel worse to have to retrieve them and return them to the store.
  • Not being able to charge your credit card doesn’t mean that you have to forego gift giving, but it does mean that you’ll need to make adjustments. The best place to start is by making a budget. List all of your gift recipients and assign each a reasonable dollar figure based on the money that you have on hand. Thinking ahead in this way will provide you with the time to get creative, as well as to take advantage of sales, promotional codes, and other ways to minimize your expenses. You also can consider non-monetary gifts based on spending time together or helping your recipient in a way that will be meaningful to them. Perhaps they are about to move and could use your help packing boxes or painting a room, or your loved one may love plants but be unable to do their own gardening. We each have our own talents and abilities that others value.

Filing for bankruptcy is truly a path to a fresh start, and that is something to be thankful for. Enjoy your health and the company of those you love.

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