Christmas shopping for my children this year was the prime example of emotional spending. Pre-divorce, I had a very strict system of something to read, something to wear, something they need, something for fun, and of course Santa brings them a gift of their choosing (within reason). The rational system I’ve been using for years was a distant memory this year. As I emptied my hiding spots and began wrapping gifts, it was extremely obvious my system was completely disregarded. My emotions, my feelings, and my guilt that they will forever have their family split between two houses lead to some (aka: MANY) purchases I would not have otherwise made. #sorrynotsorry
When my marriage first ended, someone said to me: “In the long run, this will make you more relatable.” I was pretty pissed at this comment. To be honest, rage might even be a better word to describe how angry their statement made me feel. Now, seven months post separation and emerging from the holiday hangover, I can see exactly what they’re talking about.
It’s been a long time since my emotions overtook my financial plan, even if it was only for a short time. Being clear and rational when you’re outside of a situation is easy, but when you’re in the thick of it it’s nearly impossible. When I make mistakes (and share them), I am more relatable. When I’m experiencing trauma, I am more relatable. We rarely relate to the bright and shiny parts of the lives of others, we relate to the struggle and the pain. The dark parts are where we look for community to help up us find the light again.
As I move into the new year, I know my feelings about consumer debt haven’t change but I have zero guilt for going way beyond my typical Christmas budget this year because I’m human. I bought all the things and then a few more in an attempt to distract my children from the realities of our new family structure. Will I continue to do it regularly in the future? No. Will I sometimes indulge them in a purchase I normally wouldn’t have previously? Who knows! It is a journey of healing, learning and integrating.
We make financial decisions with our hearts, our emotions and our feelings. As the emotional journey progresses, my financial plan will grow with me too. My love for budgeting hasn’t waivered, my hatred for consumer debt is still strong, but my perspective has widened and I’m reminded what it’s like to feel vulnerable and unsure sometimes.
If you also experienced some wild and free spending over the holidays, dust yourself off and move on. It happened. You’re human. It’s okay. Regroup and get back on track. I am choosing to hold no guilt over my holiday spending this year and rather accept it as a piece of my healing journey. I hope you will give yourself the same grace and know the guilt has no place in your heart. Release it and step forward into a fresh new year where you are in control of your finances.