Blue Monday is a load of poppycock that originated from a PR stunt, using some ridiculous equation that insists the third Monday of January is the most miserable day of the year.
I believe it implies that everyone’s “skint” after Christmas (as those with money have spent it all on presents, food and drink) and that – for most people – there’s still two weeks to go until payday.
I had to completely cancel Christmas '22 thanks to a £600 car repair bill. It feels horrible not being able to buy presents, or even visit your loved ones, but I also hope [most of them] would understand it was simply impossible. It's especially hard once your parents get older, as you want to spend more time with them – not less – and especially at special times like Christmas.
Personally, £600 is a huge, life changing sum of money. That may sound ridiculous as it certainly wouldn't set me up for life – but it would be the equivalent of finding a ladder after being stuck down a very deep hole. Sometimes I wish there was a secret 13th month where you could work every day, earn money, but not have to pay any bills.
Sadly, for those in poverty, every single day is Blue Monday. Although the winter months will obviously be the worst as you have the heating bills on top of everything else, and the impact this has on mental health can be too much for some people to bear.
It’s really easy to judge those who are in debt or on a low income, but a lot of people fall into debt through no fault of their own. Back in 2014 I was absolutely shafted when my salary was slashed by £500 – with no prior warning – just before Christmas and it snowballed from there. I’m still paying the price to this day (literally) – and the lockdown set me back by several years too.
Thankfully, things aren’t as bad as they were – or could have been – thanks to a few people who’ve helped me out from time-to-time. The vast majority aren’t particularly interested in helping you out – but nobody can judge them either. It's a dog-eat-dog world out there.
I’ve never had to queue at a food bank, been declared bankrupt, or gone without food for more than a day. I’ve also had the luxury of having a roof over my head all my life. Having said that, I know I’m not immune from any of that – and I’ve been a lot closer to all of the above being a reality than a lot of people might realise.
Working seven days a week has helped enormously, and although I do appreciate it when well-meaning people tell me to take a day off occasionally it’s simply impossible at this moment in time. On the upside, if I do snuff it from overwork I won’t have to worry about bills anymore, so every cloud…
Here I present my list of 10 things you might experience if you’re sailing close to the cruel and merciless winds of poverty.
Walking around the supermarket with a calculator to make sure you don’t overspend by a penny. Unless you’re exceptionally gifted at maths, then a calculator won't be required.
Literally praying that the one card you have with available funds doesn’t fail you once you reach the checkout.
The humiliation of removing items from your shopping (or all the items from your shopping) if you’ve overspent by a few pounds, while onlookers simply watch and make audible sighs of frustration.
Not sending Christmas or birthday cards because you can’t afford to, while some people then stop sending them to because you have the audacity to spend your money on the things that keep you alive.
Strategically moving money from your current account to the “safety” of your savings account (that doesn’t hold a penny) to keep it being swallowed up by a direct debit. So you can then buy food while the direct debit is represented a couple of weeks later. It’s not ideal (and some companies charge for missing a direct debit) but it buys you time (and food).
When someone asks if you’ve done all your Christmas shopping you just smile and nod – knowing full well that you won’t be buying any cards or presents as you need to pay your council tax/electricity arrears.
The pain of hearing that some people have been criticising you behind your back, rather than offering any help or support whatsoever.
Being reminded of your debt every single day via letters, emails, text messages, with patronising words like “The more you pay each month the less interest you’ll need to pay!”
Being mocked for buying a cheap car rather than saving for ten years (and missing out on job opportunities) to buy an expensive car.
Looking at your cheap car parked on the driveway, as you can't actually afford to drive it anywhere.
Obviously these are just the tip of the debt iceberg, as it goes a lot deeper than all of the above. I just wanted to remind those who may be feeling "blue" this Monday that a) you're not alone, and b) there's people out there in a far worse position than you or me who've lived to tell the tale.