What do you get if you cross the end of dry January with the first pay day since Christmas?
It’s national ‘pull a sickie’ day!
Falling on the first Monday of February, roughly 350,000 people called in ‘sick’ to work on this day alone last year, and it’s expected the number is going to be similar in 2020.
When you think about it, it makes an enormous amount of sense. People have scraped through January, not only forgoing alcohol but also dealing with the fallout of Christmas debt. Then, when January pay day weekend finally rolls around, it’s party time! No doubt many of those calling their boss feigning flu are actually nursing a sizable hangover.
Party people aside, the focused among us may still be hanging on to New Year’s resolutions; one of which is commonly to escape a lousy job. Instead of booking time off and using a day’s precious annual leave, why not call your manager whilst faking a coughing fit so you can make it to an interview?
The sheer volume of people who decide to skip work on the first Monday of February is so large that some decide calling in sick simply won’t cut it. Some excuses I found online are so unbelievable that I almost wish they were true; these include…
My cat unplugged my alarm clock
An escaped buffalo kept getting between me and my car
I cut my fingernails too short and had to go to the doctor
I watched The Hunger Games and it upset me
I ate too much at a party and need a day off to digest my food
Let’s be honest, these excuses are insane; yet I do have an odd respect for people who have the gall to use them.
Although I have personally never been brave (or stupid) enough to phone in with a buffalo themed emergency, I can relate to being foiled by my destructive desire for instant gratification.
When pay day comes around, my rational money-saving mind often goes into combat with the excited section of my brain which has seen my bank balance jump up. Although I’m careful to put money aside for essentials, there is still a child-like voice which urges me to splurge on an expensive takeaway and blow my money on a ridiculously over-priced, but oh so tasty, pizza feast every pay day.
I’ll be honest here; my desire for greasy Italian food trumps my budgeting brain 90% of the time. Being even more honest, I often don't regret my decision either… until the next morning. Then, I invariably calculate how many oven pizzas I could have bought for the price of my takeaway and wonder why I feel slightly sick from over-indulging.
I assume that this is a minor version of how those calling in sick with a hangover on 4 February must feel. I’m sure that they had an amazing time enjoying an alcohol-fuelled weekend where they felt flushed with cash. However, the hungover aftermath undoubtedly prompts feelings of mild regret, as well as disbelief as to just how expensive beer has become.
The great news is, instant gratification and its after effects are fantastically easy to manage. I know I can save more by changing my pay day habits; it just takes a little more self-control and desire to alter my routine. Then, I can focus on the best use for the money I’ve saved.
The big question, then, is what to do with the extra cash. It’s easy to be so proud of ourselves for saving a bit extra, that we blow the money on a new pair of jeans as a treat. Although this is not quite instant gratification, it’s pretty close.
Delayed gratification is much harder to get excited about, but it can pay off in the long run.
For example, if we took the money we had saved and put it into our pension pot, it could make a difference to our lifestyle in retirement, when we arguably need the money the most.
As well as having great consequences in the future, delayed gratification has its upsides in the short term. If those boozing and decimating their pay-cheque at the end of dry January considered a quiet weekend in, they would avoid both a physical and financial hangover.
Sadly, there would also be less of a need to come up with wildly nonsensical reasons for not coming into work on ‘pull a sickie’ day. Good news for employers, bad news for those like me that enjoy laughing at the more creative excuses.