Academic cautions against lavish spending as millions await tax refunds

On Tuesday, the Finnish Tax Administration Vero will pay out billions in refunds to diligent taxpayers who’ve dutifully handed over more than their fair share of income tax in 2016.

Finland’s tax authority Vero will pay out billions in tax refunds to millions of conscientious taxpayers who have paid too much income tax. One researcher said that this kind of Christmas windfall can tempt many into unnecessary spending - writes yle.fi.

The almost-magical appearance of tax refunds in the bank accounts of millions of lucky folk signals the final lap toward Christmas in Finland. Merchants are expecting to break seasonal sales records as many consumers find themselves flush with cash.

A recent Nordea survey about Christmas spending plans found that one fifth of roughly 1,000 respondents planned to bankroll seasonal expenses with savings or with their tax refunds. Just one in ten said they would turn to debt for the season.

Consumption researcher Henna Syrjälä of Vaasa University has looked into the spending habits of the disadvantaged and how they overcome daily financial hurdles. For them, the reality of Christmas is completely different, as budgets are denominated in tens rather than hundreds of euros.

When cash is tight

Syrjälä said that people who can afford to put on a lavish spread for Christmas but want to cut back can borrow from the playbook of their less solvent peers.

"You can focus only on the essentials and think about what is enough. Be content with what you have," she advised, adding that it’s possible to stretch budgets by doing more at home, such as crafting greeting cards and baking gifts.

Although low-income households have their survival mechanisms, the many seasonal charity drives indicate that being poor at Christmastime is a struggle, Syrjälä noted.

"Especially when it comes to children, the aim at Christmas is to show that things are not very different from in other homes – and that is difficult," she remarked.

Temptation to splurge on gifts

According to consumption researcher Syrjälä, it is likely that at the other end of the scale, some tax refund recipients will be tempted to use some of that windfall for Christmas spending.

"For example giving gifts may feel like an unavoidable expense and after all it has become a social norm – gift giving is part of Christmas," she noted.

Syrjälä said that while Christmas is a time that is filled with traditions such as Santa Claus, spending quality time with loved ones and good food and drink, it is also constantly changing and evolving.

She pointed to the emergence of vegan Christmas meals, Christmases spent alone, and the rise of events specially designed for people living on the breadline.

Syrjälä said that a new trend has seen Christmas spending moving in a more sustainable direction.

"Sustainable spending is a trend that is steadily getting stronger," she added.

Tip: Use old newsprint as wrapping paper

According to the researcher, sustainable spending at Christmas may take the shape of recycling gifts or even wrapping presents in old newsprint. She encouraged families to give such ideas a try.

"It’s possible to come up with beautiful things."

She said that the increasing popularity of intangible gifts shows that sustainable spending has also gained a foothold in Finnish Christmas.

She pointed out that purchasing used items as gifts is no longer seen as untenable. A recent survey by the Finnish online second-hand marketplace Tori.fi showed that more than 1,300 consumers said they had no problem with receiving a recycled item as a gift. More than half said that they would be thinking from an environmental perspective in their Christmas preparations.

Read more news of Helsinki on our site.

yle.fi
Academiccautionsagainstlavish
If you notice an error, highlight the text you want and press Ctrl + Enter to report it to the editor
3 views in january
I recommend
No recommendations yet

Comments

Post your comment to communicate and discuss this article.

Society
The coach of a sports club in Hyvinkää, southern Finland has been remanded into police custody on suspicion of sexual abuse of minors he was coaching, the Itä-Uusimaa police department said on Thursday. Officials said that they are investigating the case as suspected child abuse but did not disclose the ages of the alleged victims. The suspect in the case, a 50-year-old man, was remanded into custody on Wednesday. The suspected sexual abuse is believed to...
Society
Finns increasingly forego do-it-yourself construction of prefab elements in favour of completely completed homes. Turnkey homes (where homes are fully finished and owners can immediately occupy them) have become more popular than traditional house packages, says the Finnish Association for Manufacturers of Prefabricated Houses. “About 7,500 detached homes are built in Finland every year, and about 70 percent of them are prefabricated houses of some kind,”...
Society
THE FESTIVE ATMOSPHERE in the Helsinki neighbourhood of Arabianranta was visibly subdued on Tuesday, as residents mourned the death of a local child who is believed to have been murdered. While little information has been released to the public, it is known that the victim was murdered near their home on the night of Christmas Eve (December 24). The police apprehended a suspect at the scene of the crime, who has been confirmed as a 36-year old male. Whethe...
Society
One of Finland’s most famous seafaring vessels, the titanic icebreaker Otso, was deployed on its first mission of the winter season last night, keeping sea routes open for the 22nd year in a row. Late in the evening of Christmas Day, Otso, the crowning glory of Arctia Oy’s extensive fleet, departed from Helsinki’s Katajanokka Harbour, heading north to the Bay of Bothnia. The 7000-ton Polar icebreaker has been tasked with keeping waterways open between Oulu...
Society
Eight Finnish political parties have published their a statement on future climate policy goals in Finland. Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (Centre) in November invited all nine parliamentary parties to join a task force established to find an agreement on new, more ambitious climate goals for Finland. The one-month project was led by Kimmo Tiilikainen (Centre), the Minister of the Environment, Energy and Housing. The Finns Party abandoned the task force last w...
Society
A 25-year-old man suspected of the sexual abuse of a girl under the age of 15 in Oulu, northwestern Finland, who was arrested in Germany last Tuesday is now reported to be at large. According to law enforcement officials in Oulu, the suspect was released by German police before he could be transferred to Finnish custody due to "a breakdown in communication between authorities". Oulu District Court ordered the suspect to be reprimanded into custody in absen...
Society
Finland’s high earners saw their real income grow more in 2017 than their peers in middle and low income groups, according to new data released by Statistics Finland on Tuesday. Incomes among the country’s highest income decile rose by 4.4 percent in 2017 compared to 2016, while the year-on-year increase was 1.3 percent for middle income earners. Incomes for the four lowest income deciles meanwhile grew by 1.2 percent over the one-year period. However amon...
Society
A man wanted in connection with a suspected arson attempt on a home in Helsinki’s Käpylä district was remanded into police custody on Sunday. The Helsinki district court has remanded a man suspected of attempted arson and attempted murder into police custody, ending a short-lived manhunt, police said on Sunday. The 25 year-old is suspected of using a Molotov cocktail to cause a fire at a flat in Käpylä, Helsinki last Monday. The apartment was completely de...
Society
Helsinki Central Library Oodi will opened its doors to the public on 5 December at 8am, a day before Finland’s 101st birthday. Designed by ALA Architects, this library of a new era is an ode to Finnish culture, equality and freedom of expression. Oodi offers everyone an open, public urban space at Kansalaistori Square, right opposite Parliament House. Central Library Oodi is an active and functional meeting point with 2.5 million expected annual visitors....