Believe you me , I actually made an effort to research on the term ‘January Disease’ before writing this article and to my utmost shock, Google had very little to say about it. Could there perhaps be other terms used to describe this widespread syndrome? Since Google could not assist with a definition I will put one forth:
‘the condition of being ‘financially stranded’ that befalls a person in the month of January after overspending during the festive season’
January Disease –for as long as I can remember –is a syndrome that affects many people, year after year. And it almost seems like the emergence of each Christmas season does away with the memory of the previous infection, resulting in people experiencing the same disease all over again. Does that sound familiar? More often than not I too have fallen prey to this disease but experience has been a GOOD teacher and the tentacles of this disease are fast losing their grip on me with each emerging festive season. I would therefore like to share a few antidotes that have been helping me in the fight against January’s disease.
- Plan and save in advance for what you would like to do over the Christmas season. If you plan to travel on a long journey or to go on holiday, start to prepare for that –financially and otherwise –well before Christmas arrives. Folk take two to three years sometimes, to prepare financially for a memorable Christmas holiday. It rarely happens on a whim
- Treat December like you do every other month of the year –plan your month’s expenditures. Have a clear cut budget for all of December’s expenses.
- Pay off your bills and cover critical financial areas for the month of January BEFORE indulging in the festive mood. Schools in South Africa normally provide stationery lists for the coming year before schools close for Christmas holidays. The fees required for January are also timely communicated. I’ve found it helpful to buy all the school stuff and cover the January tuition fees –plus all the other monthly expenditures –before getting caught up in the Christmas Spirit of shopping.
- Stick to what you can afford over the festive season and do not be pressured into doing what you are not able. Try not to bite off more than you can chew. If you cannot afford to make the trip back home to your loved ones, do not do it. There will be other Christmases or other times when you can do so. If you cannot afford to buy the presents your children would like, do not do it. They will survive. If you are not able to splash money and make a big thing of Christmas, it’s really ok not to. There will be other opportunities.
- If you are fortunate to receive the 13th Cheque, take time to think on how best to use the money. First of all, does it need to be spent? Can it contribute to more meaningful ventures –like an investment in your self-development or a long-term financial investment? Think carefully on how you would like to use that extra windfall of money before you spend it on immediate gratification.
And it almost seems like the emergence of each Christmas season does away with the memory of the previous infection, resulting in people experiencing the same disease all over again
If the idea of getting to the month of February without having to borrow money appeals to you, these antidotes may help you to become more immune to the January Disease Syndrome. What antidotes have worked for you?