First payday after running on empty

Payday avoid loansPerhaps this would be better with the title ‘resisting the urge to splurge’. Anyway, payday is a weirdly emotive time, and you need to be on your guard a little. Especially so if it’s your first payday in a while, such as after changing jobs, or, as in my case, starting work with a company that pays its contractors through a process that’s more drawn out than average.

You even find this with ordinary paydays, where someone’s been settled into a regular job for a while. That little voice of temptation in your head the week before the money hits your bank account, especially if you focus on the amount of the lump sum. Fantasising about all the things you’d like to buy and do with the cash, doing some window shopping, telling yourself that you’ve been working very hard and deserve a treat… Or two, or three.

We’ve all been there. Anyone who says they haven’t is lying.

One thing I have noticed, though, is that the high earners in companies I’ve worked for don’t talk much about their payday plans. In fact, the employees who talk the most about payday nearly always seem to be those who earn the least. Not surprising that it would be more fixed in their minds, if there’s little or no surplus in their pay packets.

So here I am, just like everybody else in the same position, with that familiar old mixture of relief, excitement, and just a hint of self sabotage in the air. I swear a cash machine winked at me as I walked past…

Don’t worry, I resisted its charms, just. As soon as the payment cleared, I made sure my (free) overdraft was paid off enough to be out of the danger zone, and I paid off a chunk of my credit card. Biggest liability tackled as a priority, second potentially most expensive debt partly addressed after that – an old rule, but a helpful one. Soon I’ll be prioritising rebuilding my emergency fund, as long as I can get through Christmas without messing up.

Then I put nearly all the rest into the household kitty for bills and groceries. I say nearly all, because I left a fiver to one side. It was for a compulsory treat, because I know what happens when I’m constantly saying no to myself – a binge spend, because having too many rules becomes too restrictive and boring.

Off I went to the shops, looking for a little treat to reward myself for having been so sensible and so patient for so long. And I couldn’t find anything I wanted. Of course.

Has this ever happened to you?

[box type=”alert” style=”rounded” border=”full” icon=”none”]PG’s  Tips:

  • Once a long-awaited first payday arrives, continue on an ’emergency mode’ budget for the whole of the first month.
  • Allow yourself a small treat out of your first pay packet, but keep the budget small.
  • Prioritise paying off high interest debts, or debts that could be followed by fines for exceeding arranged limits.
  • Once you’ve stabilised your finances, don’t get used to spending the whole pay packet – start to look at longer term opportunities for savings or investments.


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