Making a budget and actually sticking to the budget are two entirely...
How to survive the January money pinch
January is always a hard month: we’ve just had the Christmas expenditure and possibly we got paid earlier in December. It just makes the month seem endless, especially where money is concerned.
So if you’re feeling the post-Christmas pinch the good news is January is nearly over, and in the meantime here are our top tips for surviving that last week or so before payday…
1. It’s sarnie time…
Sandwiches? Peanut butter? Marmite? Cheese and pickle? If you’re working and you normally pop out at lunch for bite to eat now could be the time to stop the lunch break treats and get out the old bread and butter.
This is also a good habit to get into for the rest of the year. It could help you budget in other months and make your budgeting seem a lot more generous in other places.
Saving money by making sandwiches instead of buying them makes a lot of sense, and if you do it right it will be a lot healthier too.
2. Good time to stop smoking
Those pesky nicotine sticks are mighty tempting if you’re an addict like me. Deep down we all know that we will eventually have to stop or risk making an enemy of our own future health.
Not only is smoking bad for your health, but it’s a disaster for your wallet. We’ve blogged before about how stopping smoking can save you money and January is the perfect time to start. To help, until the end of March the NHS are offering free quit smoking kits.
3. Try public transport or car sharing…
If you haven’t got the cash for a trip to the petrol pumps, or you’re driving along constantly checking the fuel gauge in the faint hope that it won’t go any lower or that at least the red light won’t come on (again!), you might want to think about cutting your fuel and transportation costs.
Not everyone can do this, but if you can, why not swap to the bus/tube/train to work to see if it’s cheaper? You might have to get out of bed a little bit earlier but you might find that saving money on petrol and parking can be a lifesaver during the last week before payday.
4. Weekend clear out…
In the last few days before a payday you’ve usually got a weekend to fill with zero budget to help. One the best and most satisfying things you can do for your house and your wallet is have a tidy up and clear out.
You never know what you’re going to find at the back of the garage; books, DVDs and CDs can be instantly sold online to get you that extra bit of cash you need to tide you over.
Or why not copy our American cousins and organise a bit of a yard sale? Popular in the USA for years, yard sales can be organised over a weekend for next to nothing. It’s good way to clear the loft and make some much needed readies especially if you get a few neighbours to do the same.
5. Flog unwanted Christmas presents…
Just like a yard sale you might find you have a few unwanted gifts. If they’re new and unopened you can use popular online auction sites (such as eBay) to sell them on straight away.
If the gift is genuinely no use to you the person who gave it would surely be happier if you made some money out of it, to help cover your essential costs.
6. Raid the freezer…
You may have splashed a little extra cash over Christmas on your food and gorged yourself during the festive period. At this point of the month the turkey is long forgotten and the shelves are looking a bit bare.
While old Mother Hubbard didn’t find anything in her cupboard, she should have been looking in the freezer. It’s time to defrost some of those ice blocks and get cooking. Combine the freezer food with those old ‘breakfast in a can’ tinned treats and you might be able to survive the month without another trip to the supermarket.
7. Points mean prizes
If you can’t avoid the supermarket and can’t face scrapping the bottom of the chest freezer then use those well earned reward points cards to cut the cost of shopping. It’s the perfect time to cash in those points and vouchers built up during the Christmas shopping.
Also remember to check online for the best deals and any promotions. Start the year by being a frugal shopper; starting this habit now could make 2012 a lot easier on your bank balance.
8. Check for old accounts
Another thing to do in the long wait before payday is to check for any old accounts, bank books and online savers.
We don’t just mean around the house either; this service from British Bankers Association automatically checks to see if you have any old accounts with a number of banks. That £1.50 you put away in 2p coins in 1972 might not be worth much more now, but as the slogan says, every little helps.
Got any other tips? Get in touch!