How are you feeling today? According to a psychologist from the U.K., January 24 is the most depressing day of the year. There’s an actual scientific formula that has been used to determined this fact. Some of the conditions that have led to this conclusion are specific to Britain, but there are seasonal cycles that contribute to this feeling anywhere throughout the winter, which is now, at least in the northern hemisphere.
This inspired me to think about my finances. Does my spending go through seasonal cycles? Checking Quicken, I see that my discretionary expenses do jump a bit from December through March compared to other times of the year. I don’t believe this has to do much with the weather or with therapeutic spending — shopping to make one happy when sad or depressed.
Obviously, Christmas and Hanukkah start the winter and Valentine’s Day occurs in the middle of the season. These holidays lead to more spending, at least for me. Additionally, I take a week-long vacation in February to coincide with my girlfriend’s winter break. (She is a teacher.) So for me, the winter is one of the most expensive seasons.
Perhaps offsetting this spending, I am more inclined to stay inside during the cold winter rather than go out and spend money on outside events like concerts and days spent in New York City.
What about other financial cycles? I wonder if people make worse investing decisions in the winter thanks to turbulent emotions, unpleasant weather, or both.
Updated January 16, 2010 and originally published January 24, 2008. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.