Why we tend to spend our holiday money right away | NOW

This week many workers will receive their holiday pay. Suddenly there is a larger amount in your account than usual. What does that do to us? Do we really enjoy holiday pay and why do we often want to spend it right away?

Holiday pay is a bonus and feels like a present. Ap Dijksterhuis, professor of psychology at Radboud University and writer, thinks that’s why it makes us so happy. “A lot of people get double what they normally get.”

But to say that this amount of money makes you happy, Dijksterhuis is going too far. “Money buys happiness, when it comes to larger amounts. Research shows that people are happier for a while after winning the lottery, because the money takes away a lot of worries.”

If you have a broken washing machine and money problems, holiday pay can provide some relief. But in general, the amount does not relieve any concerns, says Dijksterhuis. “Most don’t need the money. On the other hand, we’re in a separate year now, with inflation and high energy prices, so I think more people are now extra happy with the money.”

Brain says you earned the holiday money

The problem with many Dutch people is that the holiday pay is gone in no time. That is according to Eef van Opdorp, budget coach and author of the book crazy about money, partly due to our dominant reptilian brain. “This is a very impulsive brain that thinks, ‘Great, I have extra money, what am I going to spend it on?’ You immediately book a holiday on an impulse, which often turns out to be a slightly too expensive holiday.”

In addition, the emotional brain becomes active when you see that the money has been deposited, explains Van Opdorp. That tells us that we earned the amount because of our hard work lately. “We have now also gone through a lot of corona misery. Then you may also spend more, because you think you have earned it.”

“The thinking brain makes you look back and forward and helps you stay within budget.”

Eef van Opdorp, budget coach

Your reptilian and emotional brain together make up 95 percent of your brain. Then only a small part remains for your thinking brain. Van Opdorp: “That brain ensures that you look back and look ahead and helps you stay within a budget. You have to turn that brain on now, especially if you belong to the group that is having a hard time due to inflation.”

Save money on worries or spend on experiences

Is it indeed better to keep your holiday money this year? Then you first have to get to know your ‘money brain’ well, says Van Opdorp. “You can take a money type test to find out what money type you are and what behaviors go with it. Maybe you’re a St. Bernard who always spends money on others or an ostrich who doesn’t want to see his money problems.”

Then you can take action. If you know that your money always runs out quickly when it comes in, then it is smart to transfer the amount to others. Van Opdorp: “Choose someone you trust, such as your parents, and let them guard it. You can transfer it to your savings account, but you still know that you are coming. If it is better to save and if you spend the money, it will only stress you out.”

“When you are on holiday you have anticipation, you can share it and you have fun afterwards. That has a much greater impact on your happiness.”

Ap Dijksterhuis, professor of psychology

According to Dijksterhuis, it is best to spend your holiday money on experiences, not on things. “Things make you happy for a while, but then you get used to it. During a holiday you have anticipation, you can share it and you have fun afterwards. That has much more impact on your feeling of happiness.”

You can also create anticipation when buying stuff, says Dijksterhuis. “If you have seen nice shoes, it is much better for your luck to wait a while before buying. This way you have more anticipation. The same applies to airline tickets, it is better to wait with them instead of immediately buying a last-minute holiday. “