Financial blues hit hardest in January Fellunah Mswere1

Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu, Matabeleland South Bureau Chief

January is the toughest month with many families having to forego some luxuries and adjust their lifestyle in order to save funds.

Dubbed “January disease,” parents and guardians are faced with a non medical condition at the start of each year where they incur so many expenses at once, with limited funds. The major symptom of the January disease is shortage of funds.
Families experience this condition in January, which is the first month of the year.

Fellunah Mswere from Gwanda said the month of January comes with a lot of expenses, mainly in school preparation. She said to make it worse, families will be coming from the festive season where they would have spent a lot of money.

“As the name suggests, the January disease is a condition that we experience in January. It’s not a medical condition but it’s a disease because it’s a problem for us. January is a tough month for us as parents mainly because of school expenses. This is when we have children moving from one level of education to another.

“Some will be starting primary school, others will be moving from primary to secondary school, others from secondary to high school. This requires new school uniforms, stationery and other essentials.

The start of the year also means new school uniforms for some children and a lot of preparation for boarders.

In December we would have used up a lot of money on festivities. Some families will be relying on the December salary for festive season expenses and school expenses which brings a lot pressure,” she said.

Mswere said it was difficult to forego all of festive season expenses in order to budget for opening of schools. She said the festive season was when families get time to reunite and catch up. She said this may lead to a lot of expenses.

Brilliant Nyoni from Bulawayo said families sometimes end up diverting from their usual diets in order to cut costs.
“People often joke about people eating cabbage for relish because of the January disease and actually that is what really happens.

The situation will be tough forcing people to adjust. This often leads to a change in lifestyle. Some families are able to recover by the end of January while others may need another month in order to recover,” he said.

Nobukhosi Ndlovu, also from Bulawayo said January disease has been a problem since time immemorial. She said while the month was still difficult for her she had learnt how to ease the pressure of financial expenses.

Nobukhosi said she makes it a point not to leave all things to the last minute. She said where she is able she covers some of the school preparation costs during the course of the year.

Nobukhosi Ndlovu

She said this way she ensures that her children enjoy the festive season and their school essentials are ready when schools open.

“Proper planning may help to ease the January disease pressure. It can’t eliminate it totally but it can help. I buy some of the things which I know my children will need in January bit by bit during the course of the year so that I don’t have too much pressure.”

“I have also learnt not to overspend during the festive season. I sometimes talk to my children in order to make them understand that when finances are not enough then we have to forego some of the festive season expenses so that it doesn’t come back to haunt us in January. It’s no use to succumb to pressure and then face the consequences later,” she said.–@DubeMatutu

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