The month of January is commonly considered as the toughest and longest month of the year.
Despite six other months namely March, May, July, August, October, and December, sharing the same length, January stands out in public discourse.
Many Nigerians often lament the challenges associated with the month.
This is because many individuals grapple with financial responsibilities, attributing the difficulties to the perceived hardships of the month.
Interacting with some residents of Yola, the Adamawa state capital, the people reveal that the hardship experienced in January is due to the financial strain of the Christmas and New year festivities.
A civil servant, Lilian Patrick said many financial needs arise in the month of January.
Patrick said, “When it comes to January, it is seen as a long month because after Christmas and New year, you have school fees to pay, you need to buy food to sustain the family, and many other things are on your head, and there is no money to take care of those needs.”
She noted that the expectation for salaries especially after spending during the December festivities usually makes the month seem longer than others.
According to a health care professional, Felix Aka, early payment of December salaries make January appear exceptionally long.
”Virtually all states pay before 25th which is Christmas, so having your salary paid on or before 23rd of December and having that of January paid on 30th or 31st of January seem to be a long period for some people.”
“That is why people think January is the longest month of the year. Some will say January has 50 days, and other people refer to January as promax”, he explained.
He also added that many people incur extravagant expenses during the yuletide, hence they eagerly look forward to the end of the month of January for salaries in order to offset accumulated bills.
Also speaking, a business woman, Theresa Ogboji lamented low patronage, occasioned by economic hardship coupled with January dryness syndrome, noting that she has been struggling to make ends meet since the beginning of the year.
“I’ve literally been struggling to survive in business, I just don’t want to sit back at home, because I sit in the shop from morning till night sometimes without any one coming to buy anything.”
“Instead of people to come and buy new phones, they will bring their old phones and ask if I want to buy used phones because they need money for house rent, children’s school fees and food to feed their families”, she lamented.
On his part, a financial analyst, Ali Ibrahim who works in the private sector said the perceived January suffering is due to financial recklessness.
“People should learn to plan early towards celebrations. Families should have budget for festivities and spend what they have”, he advised.
He urged people to ensure accountability by prioritizing their needs and avoid living above their means.
According to him, “Christmas celebration should not be done to impress others, so getting loans to celebrate is not an option.”
However, a Psychologist, Thomas Kwaghgba identified impulse buying, influenced by emotions and societal pressure during the Christmas and New year celebrations, as factors responsible for the hardship many people face in January.
“Understanding the psychology of holiday spending and the factors that drive impulse buying is the first step towards making more responsible purchasing decisions.”
He pointed out that “by recognising emotional triggers -the social pressure, the neurological factors- an individual can develop strategies to resist impulsive spending, and this will help to ensure a financially healthy holiday season.”
“So by setting boundaries and practicing mindfulness, holiday can be both joyful and financially sustainable”, he added.
Kwaghgba therefore advised people to imbibe financial discipline, while cultivating the culture of savings and investment to avoid unpleasant situations in the month of January.
Celebratory expenses during the Yuletide season makes it difficult to fulfill various obligations, such as payment of rent, school fees, and other pressing financial needs in the new year.
It is therefore necessary to plan adequately and avoid financial strains during festivities in order to prevent the hardship often experienced in the month of January.