Travers & Travers

Don't get into a gift giving contest with your ex

Splitting up with a partner is always difficult. However, when you share children, things get more complicated. You and your former spouse share custody or conservatorship as it is known in Texas. You may feel sadness and regret, particularly if you spent some of the holidays without your children. You may want to try to make up the time you missed with your children.

Planning a special activity is a great idea. However, you should not try to make it up to your children by overspending on presents, now and in the future. You may also have a difficult relationship with your former partner, but you should also avoid trying to one up him or her in the present department. This behavior is hard on your finances, and it is unfair to your children, not to mention your former spouse. Here are some tips to get you through gift buying without turning it into a competition.

Consider why you are buying large presents

Before you buy your child anything too large, stop and ask yourself why you are buying him or her this present. If the answer is you are trying to outdo your former partner, you should not buy that gift. Gift giving should be about making your children happy, not about upsetting someone else. This kind of one-upmanship can also have disastrous consequences if it escalates.

Think about setting a budget

One way to keep yourself from overspending is to set a gift budget. Pick a number that is reasonable, and that does not involve you putting items on your credit card. If you think you will have a hard time sticking to the budget, only use cash when you go shopping. That way when you are out of money, you will know it is time to quit buying gifts.

Communicate with your former partner

You certainly do not want to duplicate gifts, so you should talk to your ex about what he or she plans to buy for your kids. You could even discuss setting a spending limit with your former partner, so you each of you agree to spend the same amount on the kids.

Try to compromise

When you discuss gifts, your former spouse may want to buy your kids something you planned to get for them. Instead of saying no, consider listening to what he or she says and then try to come to a compromise. Even just letting your ex explain can do a lot to smooth over the situation.

Consider giving gifts together

Perhaps your children want a few big-ticket items. Rather than arguing about who will give what, maybe you could buy these presents together. It will save you money, as well as eliminate the idea of competition related to present giving. It also shows your children their parents can still work together, and that their best interests come first.

Learn to let it go

Even if you agree to a budget, your former partner might still overspend. Realize there is nothing you can do about this. You cannot control what your ex does, but you can control your reaction to it. Try to take the high road, and stick to that budget.

You know giving gifts is not a competition for your children's affection, and if you stick to these strategies, you should be able to let go of guilty feelings and not overspend on gifts.

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Travers & Travers
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Katy, TX 77450

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