What to do if you’re feeling blue this Blue Monday

2022-01-13   minute read

Lifestyle Debt

Debt Solutions

A 2004 media report famously declared the third Monday in January as the most depressing day of the year: commonly known as Blue Monday. The fun of Christmas has worn off, but the financial impact is still being felt, leading to a sort of holiday hangover. Many of those New Year’s resolutions that people set don’t last a full three weeks.

Layered on top of that is the fact that much of Canada is still steeped in a pandemic we hoped, by now, would have shown more signs of subsiding. Instead we’ve seen businesses close, indoor social venues reduce capacity, and other gathering restrictions. Staying positive through 2021 was far from easy.

While we’d never pretend to have solutions to all the problems that make Blue Monday depressing, there are steps you can take to reduce the financial stress that comes with this time of year.

2022 plan goals

Budgeting: focus on what you can control

Let’s face it, in the era of COVID-19 we have a hard time knowing what the world will look like even a month from now. But despite the external forces weighing on our minds (and sometimes our wallets), a brighter financial future is within reach when you focus on what you can control.

If you find yourself financially struggling on Blue Monday, know that you are not alone. An MNP Debt survey from 2021 found that 53 percent of Canadians have $200 or less standing between them and not being able to meet their monthly expenses. For those in that 53 percent majority, budgeting should be top of mind in 2022.

If you don’t have a budget laid out, there is no better time than the present to make one. MNP Debt offers some great free resources to help you get started.

If you have a budget already, mid-to-late January may be a good time to check if it needs adjusting. Your income may have increased in the form of a Christmas bonus or year-end raise. Your expenses may have changed as well, since many subscriptions and services change rates at the turn of the calendar year (Netflix is an example). All of this should be recorded in your spreadsheet, or other budgeting tool, to ensure you are still cash-flow positive.

Lastly, think about using an “accountability partner” for your budget: a close confidant who can ensure you’re staying on track. Not everyone should be privy to your finances, but research shows that disclosing your goals to someone whose opinion you value can keep you honest, and can increase your chances of sticking to your financial plan. 

Taking these steps can build your confidence and give you a sense of optimism, rather than dread, on Blue Monday.

Set realistic goals for 2022

If you have a budget and a strong understanding of your inflows and outflows of cash, you are primed and ready to set goals.

All of your goals should be geared towards becoming debt-free, even if it happens in small increments. Too often we become ambitious — overestimating our potential for income and underestimating our future expenses — which leads to disappointment and abandoning our goals too soon. Some examples of realistic goals include:

  • Cancel one monthly subscription or recurring payment you don’t need this year (e.g. a streaming service)
  • Choose one recurring debt payment to pay double the minimum on
  • Identify one credit card to pay off in full in 2022
  • Create one cue or trigger for yourself to prevent impulse buying (e.g. remove credit cards from online accounts to avoid one-click checkouts)
  • Find one additional source of income to pursue during the year (e.g. government aid you are eligible for, asking for a raise)

Doing one difficult thing at a time will build your morale to set more ambitious targets. Over time, you will see your finances improve.

Focusing on the future doesn’t change the realities of the present. But you will find Blue Monday a little more enjoyable when you shift your focus to finding solutions.

Buck the trend of Blue Monday

Just because pop psychology says Blue Monday is a depressing day, doesn’t mean it has to be that way for you. Above all, go easy on yourself; you are not alone in your struggle, and guilt is just another headwind that you don’t need.

If you need a way to alleviate your burden of debt, pick up the phone and schedule a Free Confidential Consultation with a local Licensed Insolvency Trustee. Together you can review your financial situation, discuss your options, and begin building a strategy to get a financial fresh start in 2022. There’s a solution for every debt problem, and our team is eager to find one that will work for you.

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