Shopping for Your Kids Affection

If you're trying to make up for a parent's absence with holiday excess, you're in for more than you've bargained -- and budgeted -- for. Also, check out our seven tips for a special and affordable holiday season.

It's your first holiday season after he's left, and you find yourself scrambling to make your kids feel like nothing has changed. You want them to know that they're loved. So you shower them with gifts -- no matter the financial toll. That'll prove your love, right? Wrong. Think about it, no amount of toys or clothes is going to add up to one less parent in the house. Gifts are not a measure of love. And with one less breadwinner, can you really afford the extravagance?

Single parents tend to be more indulgent with their kids because they feel guilty. Guilt can be a big motivator and excuse to spend money that you may not have.

So if your children are old enough to understand their father's departure, take the time to sit down with them and explain that there's just not as much money as there used to be. Don't try to hide the money pressures from your kids. You all have to work together.

I know a woman who split with her spouse and ran up $3,500 in holiday credit card debt buying everything for her three kids, from a weekend ski trip to the latest computer games.

When January rolled around and the bills started pouring in, her kids went back to school -- the holidays a distant memory. It was then that one of her boys let her know that he hated skiing and would rather have been home playing with his friends. So here is this woman thinking that she is acting heroically, risking financial peril, and she doesn't even have her kids' appreciation to show for it.

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