I admit I am a heavy beer drinker, and I know how it feels getting a really bad hangover. I hope you’re not getting spins right now while reading this because in the first place, that’s not the hangover I’ll talk about.
Christmas is no question a season of merrymaking and gift giving, and as it should also be, a season of serious budgeting among ordinary workers who just have enough for the holidays.
It is also a season of spending temptations and triggers. Bonuses and 13th month pays provide extra cash for happy get-togethers and days of unwinding between Christmas and New Year, at least a year-end pause from work and school grinds.
Overspending and unwise financial decisions during holiday seasons however may leave one reeling and feeling broke after. We call it a holiday spending hangover, or simply a financial hangover. Are you having it right now?
A financial hangover happens when you get off track with your budget and splurge on a lot of unplanned things — shopping sprees, gift giving, and throwing year-end parties — especially during the most expensive time of the year, and you wake up feeling broke and thinking about a financial recovery approach.
Holiday and Year-End Parties
We’ve learned to just call them ‘year-end’ and not anymore ‘Christmas parties’ for the sake of those who do not celebrate Christmas. Say for instance, I have Muslim student advisees (those who usually request class exit slips on Friday noons for their worship services). We also have non-Christian coworkers.
Year-end celebrations stay the same, minus the holiday artefacts though — Santa Claus, Christmas tree, lanterns, etcetera. And we exchange more inclusive greetings, “Happy Holidays!” and “Happy Year End!”
All year-end parties I attended this December were short and simple, except the SSG schoolwide party that caused me big preparation headaches.
- 2 Homeroom Year-End Parties (PHP3,000 + some presence). I contributed four fourteen-inch Papa John’s and Domino’s pizzas and some chocolates for the fun games. I was entirely busy the whole party hours with other serious school stuff, and I had to literally peek in from time to time.
- Happier STIer Year-Ender (PHP1,300 + organizational skills and last-minute plans). It was a schoolwide celebration with fun games, miniconcert, and booth activities. As the adviser of the organizing student org, I was not spared from shelling out for the materials and game prizes. Most of the budget was covered by the sponsors though. Thanks to the very resourceful SSG!
- Faculty Department Year-End Night (PHP2,500 + simpleng pakikisama). Of course, there was no monetary contribution, but still I spent for a new Uniqlo white polo shirt and gray sweater (also gifts for myself). Other than these, I also bought an inexpensive wishlist item for the gifts exchange from Lazada and some PHP30-peso stuff for my Monita from Mr.D.I.Y.
- Family Christmas Celebration (PHP4,000 + exceptional cooking skills). Our parents were with us for like two weeks until Christmas and went back to the province for the New Year. My other three siblings also had their contributions for the food, but I was in charge of the kitchen, and so I had some extra cash out for those unforeseen expenses.
- Simple New Year’s Eve (PHP2,000 + all the chill cooking). The family was almost complete last Christmas, and since everyone decided to have the New Year’s Eve on their own, my sister and I will be the ones spending it together. I had a quick market trip early this morning for our simple celebration. I planned to prepare light dishes and desserts.
Mindoro Charity Outreach
It’s what I always look forward to every year — joining my coworkers in our biannual charity outreach in Paluan, Occidental Mindoro. We picked December 27-29 for the holiday visit.
As an active member and organizer of the charity, I simply help in the solicitation and distribution of donations, but of course, the transportation and other personal expenses upon visit come from my own pocket. You might want to read Educate and Support Paluan Mangyans.
- Transportation Expenses (PHP3,000 + tulong buhat-buhat). It went to the seat fare in a door-to-door van from Cainta, Rizal to Paluan, Mindoro (via Batangas Port and Abra de Ilog). On our trip back, we decided to take a roro bus from Mamburao to PITX (a little cheaper), but took us like 13 hours (against 9 hours with the van).
- Other Contributions and Personal Expenses (PHP1,100 + kaunting kuwento). All meals during our charity visit were covered by our host coworker. We stayed in her parents’ ancestral house. During picnic however in a beach like miles away from the town center, we had to contribute for the food and alcoholic drinks. Also, it was tempting eating cup noodles and boiled eggs while on a three-hour sea travel. It’s December, and amihan but brings a chill to the bone.
It has gone hassle-free, though not totally practical, for adults to gift inaanaks and family members with cash, not to mention the convenience of GCash.
- Mama and Papa (PHP5,000). It’s small I know compared to how much my other siblings usually gift them during Christmas, but it’s yes, always from the heart. My parents do understand that I don’t earn that big, and I’ve got a lot of expenses and bills to pay as well.
- Pamangkins and Inaanaks (PHP2,000). I had a nephew and a niece in the house over the Christmas, and since I wasn’t able to buy toys unlike last year, I simply gave them PHP500 each. I also sent my two other pamangkins with my first cousins in the province the same amount through GCash.
- Aunt and Uncle (PHP5,000). I shared here once or twice that during my college and years after, I used to live with my aunt and uncle, and I always reserve some cash gifts for them every Christmas. It’s the most practical way of gifting them since they are both seniors already (well, like my parents), and cash is a big help for both of them to have an additional stash for their personal expenses. I don’t find it still good to buy them like clothes or something else.
Holiday Spending Hangovers
Ouch! I just bled out around PHP29,000 for the holiday season, excluding the monthly bills and regular household expenses. That’s a big money for a humble employee who earns just above the minimum wage. Thanks to the 13th month pay and Christmas bonus! Apart from these, I also had additional funds from my side hustles, and credit card installments really help me have such a budget breather.
It’s almost New Year, and I am getting tipsy. I expect a holiday spending hangover as I come to revisit my budget and finances by early January.
Anyway, Christmas and New Year happen just once a year, and I have been really blessed this year amidst the experienced job burnout and some unwise decisions.
Of course, I’ve got also some what ifs about the money, or I should have been more stingy, but as I just wrote, Christmas is also a season of merrymaking and gift giving.
Happy New Year, everyone!