Eight reasons to be glad it’s January (and nearly February)!

January photo

1. Settling back into some kind of routine.

With Christmas comes parties, glitter, presents, carols and generalized throwing out of the status quo and regular routine. This is exciting but EXHAUSTING, particularly if you’re a parent. The onset of January is a relief in some ways – while I miss turning the Christmas tree lights on every morning, a part of me breathed a huge sign of relief to have everything back in its place again.

2. Sales! Sales! Sales!

If there are things you wanted for Christmas (or didn’t realize that you wanted), and have been a diligent saver, this is your time to indulge. I tend to save a little bit a month for a modest shopping spree in January. Everything is marked down as retailers try to make some sales in what is otherwise a dreary financial month.

3. A fresh start.

Anne of Green Gables once noted that each day is a new one, with no mistakes in it yet! This goes doubly for a new year – it’s the ideal time to reinvent yourself. Want to become a pilates-doing, lasagna cooking super Martha? Somehow it’s easier to start that in January than August.

4. The days have officially started getting longer.

If you cringe at the ‘dark when you get to work and dark when you leave’ situation that December brings, rest assured that it’s improving. By March, you’ll have light at both ends, and it’s probably (hopefully!) no longer dark when you head home.

5. Valentine’s Day and Family Day.

I’m in BC, which has a new February holiday…the prospect of a long weekend can lift even the dimmest of spirits. And chocolate and pink sparklies everywhere. Regardless of whether you’re single or coupled, the themey-ness is awesome.

6. A new set of benefit and vacation allowances!

Just the prospect of vacation in the future can make you feel better – whether you’re staying home or going somewhere glam, you have a brand new year of time to spend doing what you choose with it. Please note that you should use it! Don’t be one of those statistics that baffles me about people who don’t take their time off. WHY, people, WHY? You’ll never sit down in twenty years and regret working less, let me assure you.

The other bonus is a new set of benefit allowances – see my post here on the benefit of benefits.

7. Your favourite TV show is back from the holiday hiatus.

And if you’re madly ensconced in Downton Abbey or Parenthood – that’s good news!

8. Comfort food.

Soup and stew and warm solid foods are what the winter is all about. One of the best things on a January night is to come home to a crockpot full of bubbling hot chili and some cheesy bread to go alongside it.

So next time you’re grumbling about winter, it’s not all bad. And those blustery nights are awesome for a book and a mug of cocoa.

Benefiting from your benefits!

My laundry list of general wants that would make my life better is extensive, as is most people’s. An extra hour of sleep every morning, perfect teeth, perfect vision, time at the spa, fewer (or no!) migraines, and I could go on ad nauseum – you would probably recognize and identify with a number of items on that list.

While some of these seem like the proverbial pie in the sky items, they are closer to achievable than one would think at first glance. Why?

Benefits, my dear Watson.

A great many jobs come with an extended benefits package which covers things like vision care, dental, medication, and paramedical services (massage, chiropractics, etc). It never ceases to boggle my mind how many people don’t read through their benefits packages. Why would you not take advantage of your employer paying for some (or in some cases, all) of a massage or chiropractic treatment? Think of the quality of life increase that you could have! Most providers that have a vision care coverage component will allow that to be put towards laser eye surgery…and the costs of that have come down substantially over the years as well.

If your spouse has coverage, you should check whether or not you can put the two together – it’s known as ‘umbrella’ coverage in some circles. What that means is that I have $800 every two years for optical coverage. My husband has $500 every two years, which means that if I wanted to get laser eye surgery, I would have $1300 to put towards it, which is huge.

We also have excellent massage coverage, which covers all of my massages up to the first $1500. And I can go anywhere, as long as it’s a registered massage therapist. The immediate leap that this brought to my brain was: Wait! Spas have RMTs! I can go to the fanciest spa in town and use their facilities and snack and be all posh! And someone else will reimburse me! That’s BRILLIANT! And that, boys and girls, is exactly what I do.

Sometimes, spas will have bonuses when you buy a gift card of a certain denomination, usually at Christmas. So you buy the gift card, get the bonus, use the gift card to pay for the massage, get reimbursed via extended benefits, and voila! You get to keep the gift, and are not out of pocket – everyone wins.

What work benefits do you have that you appreciate? What do you wish that your employer offered as a benefit?