It’s the same every year. Christmas comes and goes and you end up seeing in the new year skint and two stone heavier. January is notoriously a depressing month with all the festivities coming to (usually) an anticlimax and the dreaded return to work after some much needed time off and rest. On top of all this are the funds (or lack of) in your bank account which are causing a constant worry as you ask yourself how you’re going to last until the end of the month with such little money. However, it doesn’t need to be such a struggle and yes, you may not be able to spend as frivolously as you did before Christmas but getting through the month may not be as overwhelming as you first thought.
Take a Packed Lunch to Work
This may seem like an obvious one but buying your lunch for the 5 days a week (or more) that you eat away from home and usually in work can add up to often more than £30 per week which, by making large meals at dinner time and setting aside the leftovers to be heated up for lunch, can be saved and put towards something else. Making meals at home to bring into work usually means healthier eating, resulting in more brain power (supposedly)…put the meal deal down, it ain’t worth the calories.
Open a Savings Account
There are some great options open to you when it comes to putting your money away for a rainy day. Whilst you may not have much to put away this January, accounts such as the regular Saver from HSBC allows for as little as £25 per month to enter your account by standing order. The maximum amount you can put in as £250 and it could see you saving up to £3, 000 in a year. There are similar offers from the likes of Lloyds and Barclays, and paying a small bit each month (even if it is only the minimum for now) can you see you gain interest on your savings and allow yourself to adjust to spending less and saving more!
Switch your Energy Provider
Whilst this may seem like a huge effort, the winter months are costly when it comes to using energy and so if you have a little spare time why not have a shop around and see if you can switch your provider and use the same energy, for less? It may even be worth switching to a smart meter which gives you a totally accurate reading of your energy usage, rather than seeing you waste money on a bill that is estimated. Most major energy providers now have a smart meter option.
Plan your Spending
Every month we have our dreaded outgoings (bills, mortgage/rent, car finance and the weekly food shop to name but a few) but if you lay it all out in front of you and plan exactly what you have to spend and when it can suddenly all seem a little less daunting. Make sure you have enough to afford all of these things (the essentials) and anything left over can be disposed in your own way – remember if you have a significant amount leftover to put some away in savings!
Cycle or Walk to Work
Admittedly, this is not always possible for everyone, but if you find yourself in a position where you can either cycle or walk your daily commute, not only would you be massively reducing your carbon footprint but you would also be saving a fair amount of money on petrol or transport fares, and getting fit in the process!
Know what you’re Buying
If you haven’t realised by now, budgeting takes a lot of planning, which can be slightly time-consuming but is well worth it in the end. Planning your food and essentials shop before you head out to buy means that you avoid browsing in the supermarket and buying things that you don’t need or can’t afford (this is often made worse when you are shopping on an empty stomach). If you are trying a new year diet then don’t worry, you can still eat healthily and nutritiously on a budget. Cook your meals in bulk and fill them out with pulses and lentils which are cheap to buy dry (one packet goes a long way). Portion out your meals and freeze any that you are not likely to eat in the next few days. Try out supermarket’s own brands, because believe it or not they aren’t all awful!
Have a Clear Out
There must be a good few things either in your wardrobe or lying about the house that haven’t been used or worn in what feels like forever. A brand new year is a definite call for a clear out and why not make some money whilst you’re at it? eBay is a great way to make sure that your unwanted things are going to a great new home, and you receive some cash for it in the process. Thne site is totally secure and all money is dispensed into your Paypal account. You can either choose to leave it in there or withdraw it into your current account.