The third and fourth weeks of January are, most likely, the poorest weeks of the year for people living in Sweden. I blame the holidays. Actually, lots of people blame the holidays. But it also has to do with the way Sweden doles out money.
Money is important after you’ve just spent most of it on presents, ham, and alcohol. Not necessarily in that order. If you have kids, you may have spent even more money on presents and alcohol. I don’t know. Santa needs his Christmas cheer in liquor form to make it through the night. Anyway, families with children are often staring at a whole lot of red in their accounts come January.
Luckily for parents, there’s the ever popular barnbidrag. It’s an allowance that goes to the parents recognizing their ability to create a child. Every kid is, according to the Swedish government, worth a solid 1 050 SEK per month. Fun fact though, that money doesn’t get paid out until the 20th of every month.
There are a lot of days between Christmas, New Years, and the 20th of January. So on January 19th, people throughout Sweden eat macaroni. If they really stuck to their Christmas budget you might see some hotdogs in that macaroni or maybe some falukorv on the table.
But what about us? Those who don’t have children? Who don’t want children? Who can’t have children? We’re poor too! And we’re poor for even longer. That’s because payday here in Sweden is the 25th of every month for the vast majority of people. That’s right. You get one paycheck per month. Twelve per year. None of this get-paid-twice-per-month nonsense here. There’s one big deposit in your bank account so you can pay your bills, rack up more bills, and drink yourself into a krona-induced stupor. It’s amazing. People fill the streets, single-handedly attempting to bolster the Swedish economy. And, based on absolutely zero data but a trained folklorists eye, totally true.
If you’re good at math, you’ll notice that there are even more days between Christmas, New Years, and the 25th of January. So on January 24th, child-less people will be eating frozen pizza or spaghetti with ketchup. Except for the child-less people with high-paying jobs. They have way more disposable income and will obviously be eating filet mignon and drinking champagne.
Welcome to Sweden. And holiday hangovers.