How to Avoid Financial Stress and Stay Sober During the Holidays

If you’re around family for the holidays, you might feel pressured to buy everyone a gift. But if you’re just getting back on your feet financially, then perhaps you simply can’t afford to do so. And even if you did, the stress of having credit card debt might only weigh you down.

If you want to avoid financial burden and keep stress at bay (which will give you greater ability to stay sober), try the suggestions below.

Avoiding Financial Stress


  • Don’t use credit cards. Think about it this way – what you put on a credit card, you only end up paying more for. So for a shirt that costs only $20, you’re really paying $25 or $30 when you buy with a credit card. In other words, for the convenience of having it now (when you don’t have the money), you pay extra for things. But remember if you don’t have the money now, you may or may not have the money later. If you’re just getting back on your feet, in many cases, credit cards are bad news.


  • Create a budget. First decide who you want to spend money on. Sure, it could be everyone in your family or it could be just a handful of people. You might consider buying a gift for each of your children but then make something or volunteer your time for your siblings and parents. Or you might decide to not buy anything and be the one to host the holidays parties as an alternative. In order to make decisions about whom to buy for, first, take a look at your finances and decide how much you want to spend. That will be your limit. It’s important to have a clear number from the start and then base your spending budget on that.


  • Meet your own basic needs first. It’s important to note that anyone who is in recovery but who is concerned about relapsing needs to make his or her basic needs a priority. It’s easy to get caught up in the thrill of the holidays. But if you’re not meeting your own basic needs (shelter, clothing, food, water, etc) then buying gifts for others isn’t an option. In fact, forget about the two suggestions above if you don’t have the money to take care of yourself.

Staying Sober and Healthy During the Holidays

Another aspect of finances regarding the holidays is the emotional turmoil it can create. If there is barely enough money to purchase gifts, it might uncomfortable to stretch yourself financially. And saying no to buying gifts this season might bring up feelings like guilt, worry, or anxiety.

Plus, in addition to the financial side of the season, there’s also stress and loneliness for many people. For instance, some men and women might feel depressed while others feel stressed out. Some might feel pressure from their family and friends, while others feel lonely and alone. Some people might feel concerned that they aren’t doing enough to show they care, while others don’t care at all.

If you are new to recovery during the holiday season, perhaps the best thing you can do for yourself is focus on your sobriety. Don’t worry about the Christmas demands,  they will be there again next year. Let go of the idea that you need to buy everyone gifts, and give the gift of recovery to yourself in order to stay sober.



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