A lean January?
In Spanish, we talk about ‘la cuesta de enero’, the January slope, a well-known expression typical of the month of January, although lately it seems to have an inflationary tendency that extends it to the rest of the year. But where does this idea come from?
The lack of financial resources associated with the first month of the year is caused by a series of variables that make this month particularly problematic, not only in terms of personal finances but also in terms of the emotional state of many people.
The concept of ‘la cuesta de enero’ began to appear in the Spanish media in the 19th century, connected to the theatrical world. After overspending during the Christmas holidays, the theatres noticed a sharp drop in the number of spectators. This is how the concept began to become popular, which is reinforced by the increase in the price of services that takes place at the beginning of each year. The prices regulated by the administrations are updated on the 1st of January, and this has a direct impact on the (already depleted) pockets of citizens.
It is then that many people remember the expenses incurred during the Christmas holidays. In addition, to combat the drop in consumption, retailers apply sales. And this ambivalence arises: the consumer has less money but wants to continue spending because of the tempting discounts.
Internationally, there is talk of the ‘Blue Monday‘, a concept originating from a Sky Travel advertising campaign, which refers to the third Monday in January as the saddest day of the year. It has no scientific basis, however, it exemplifies the emotional downturn that accompanies this time of year. The return to the routine after the holiday period marks the end of the cycle of a year in which we may not have achieved the goals we had set for ourselves, with the subsequent disappointment. A state of mind and emotions now also touched by the uncertainty and anguish caused by the pandemic.
A 20th-century economic phenomenon
The economic and social phenomenon of spending what one cannot afford did not originate with consumerism, but it is true that this tendency to consume products in much larger quantities than necessary was amplified with the emergence of contemporary marketing, creating new needs and a desire to spend money by the population in order to feed the unlimited economic growth of capitalism.
It is from this microeconomic scenario of the last century that the concept of the ‘la cuesta de enero’ became popular. Spurred on by an alliance of financial, business, and advertising interests working together to perpetuate consumption based on continuous growth. Advertising convinces us of the need to buy countless products we don’t need, while banks give us every facility to spend money we don’t have.
To a large extent, the antidote to the ‘la cuesta de enero’ is as simple as ensuring that the population has a good financial education. Obviously, there are unavoidable expenses such as water, electricity, and mortgages, but the use of credit and knowledge of other financial tools available to a family economy are essential not only to prevent economic hardship throughout the year but also to maintain certain emotional health.
And that is why at 11Onze we give so much importance to financial education in our community, and we make learning tools available to everyone to empower people to manage their assets in the best possible way.
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