January disease

Being broke is the worst, I don’t understand how anybody would not strive to do better. ~ unknown

Of course, this particular quote requires a context. Sometimes you can’t help being broke. Life gets tough. At other times however….

Let’s talk about those other times…

At the end of my first year of employment I got a thirteenth cheque at the end of November in addition to my usual cheque. Plus I got paid early in December! That should have meant sitting pretty financially until January 31. After all, I had double the money I usually have in a month right? Not. By January 4th I was hopelessly broke. I had what people in Zimbabwe call January disease: Empty pockets, bank account and piggy bank. Up to this day I can not tell you what I spent that money on but January was pretty damn long!


I learnt a vital lesson that year. Failing to plan December finances = a very rough January.

I came across the #ownmydecember campaign on Edzai Zvobwo’s Blog. His philosophy is much more profound than any that I have. He aimed to raise awareness and to encourage people to make a conscious decision not to fall into the traps that the festive season brings. According to him, these include:

  • The number of road deaths increase exponentially.
  • People spend recklessly affecting their future financial vitality
  • Matric results are published and there is an increase in the number of teenage suicides
  • Alcohol consumption and illicit sexual activities increase
  • Family conflicts increase
  • Unhealthy eating and habits increase
  • Violence and other social ills increase.

There is no arguing with the stats. In December, most of us take leave of our senses, our finances and the more unfortunate of us, lose even their lives.

This year I intend to change that and #ownmydecember by doing two things differently:

a) budget (and actually  stick to it). It will serve me well to remember that sale discounts are way bigger in January because vendors can totally count on most people to be broke.

b) prepare a rescue package for myself.

When I get my bonus, I will take a portion of it (the rescue package) and put it into my 32 day account. This is an account I can only withdraw from after giving my bank 32 days notice of my intention to do so. In and around December 15, I will give notice. In 32 days (approximately 17 January), my rescue package will pop into my account and wa la!

While we have a fabulous time this festive season let’s be responsible. December is only 1 month of 12.