With Christmas firmly out of the way, this is the time of year when just about everyone is tightening their belts and taking a more careful approach with their spending. The team at Wethrift have taken a look at some top tips and tricks that you can use to get your finances back on track this January.
New Year’s Resolutions
Whether you’re looking to lose weight or learn a new language, most of us do try to make resolutions every January. If you have any habits that are negatively impacting your finances, such as smoking or binge drinking, why not use the new year as an opportunity to cut back on these activities.
Not only will this protect your pocket but you are bound to experience certain health benefits from reducing your alcohol and nicotine intake. It is estimated that an avid smoker, being one who gets through one ordinary packet of cigarettes per day, can spend upwards of £1,970 per year – just imagine what else you could be doing with that amount of money.
If you are looking for a way to cut down on your drinking in 2022, why not jump on the Dry January bandwagon? This increasingly popular trend encourages people to give up their drinking habits for at least the month of January. This is a potentially fun way to cut down on your alcohol intake since you can gather a group of friends to participate alongside you, and if you feel like you deserve it – treat yourselves on February 1st.
Cutting meat out of your diet for a month is another way that you can give your finances, and your general health, a bit of TLC this January. With so many more vegetarian and vegan options in supermarkets, it has never been easier to go meat-free. Couple this with the estimated rising price of the meat in the UK, your pockets will thank you for ditching the meat.
If you are a meat-lover, and do not feel as if you can commit to an entire month without getting your chops around some chicken, why not try having one vegetarian day per week, such as ‘Meat-Free Monday’. Alternatively, you may want to go one step further and reduce your general meat intake by only eating meat on the weekends as a special treat.
To get yourself into a better financial situation, you need to know your budget inside and out, so that you are aware of which expenses need prioritising each month.
Taking the time to go through your bank statements and bills is the first step to helping you budget properly. Looking at your entire outgoings and incomings all at once can feel like a pretty daunting task, but it will help you to understand what you can afford each month and what you cannot. Use our budget template to help you work out your income and outgoings.
Sometimes developing a better understanding of your budget can help you to alleviate any stress in the long run, as you can better prepare yourself for any large outgoings, meaning no nasty surprises.
Once you have budgeted properly, you can check to see if you can treat yourself to the odd impulse purchase each month, without losing any sleep over it – making it a win/win scenario for you.
Set Your Goals
With another year finally upon us, what better time is there to set your goals and start saving for them. You may find that you become savvier with your money if you focus on managing it around saving for a specific goal.
Once you have assessed your finances, set yourself a realistic target, for example, 10% of your monthly income or whatever you feel works for you, and start getting into the habit of setting that money aside for something that you want.
You should find it much easier to stay on track of your saving habits if you are focused on setting a fixed amount of money aside each month, as opposed to simply stating that you want to save money in general.
You may want to consider putting your new savings aside in a brand new online savings account or keep it old fashioned with an in-house piggy bank.
Check Your Accounts Regularly
Between bills, tax, mortgages, rents, phone contracts and monthly subscriptions, it can be hard to keep track of the money leaving our accounts each month. Doing regular checks of your bank statements can help to make you aware of all your monthly outgoings, and you may even spot a few surprise ones.
Particularly in the last few years, a lot of people may have signed up for things like streaming subscription accounts such as Netflix or Amazon Prime, that they may not be using enough to make it worthwhile, or perhaps have forgotten about altogether. It is not uncommon for people to have signed up to free trials for all sorts of different services which they forgot to cancel, and are now unknowingly paying a monthly fee for something that is not being used.
Perhaps you have signed up for a gym membership last year but have not made a trip down there in months, whilst still paying a sizeable amount of money each month.
Going through your accounts will help you to keep on top of all of your monthly outgoings and help you to prioritise the subscriptions that you feel you do and don’t need.
Likewise, regular checks of your bank statement can help you to identify where any recurring bills have increased in price. Sometimes our phone contracts or energy bills can go up in price without us realising straight away. If you have checked your accounts and noticed that one of your bills has shot up in price, then you can make use of one of many online comparison sites to work out if you could be paying less money for the same or a similar service.
Don’t forget the odd little pennies here and there from forgotten bank accounts. Tracking down old bank accounts is not difficult and is well worth a few minutes of your time. Here are some tips on how to find old bank accounts that you had forgotten about.
Set No-Spending Days
While the idea of going a whole 24 hours without spending a single penny might sound like an impossible task in the modern world, with a bit of planning, it is much easier to achieve than you might think.
To start, try and see if you can go just one day in January without spending a penny and build from there. Good knowledge of your monthly incomings and outgoings will help you to do this, as you can plan for when your bills will be leaving your account, and commit to doing other expenses such as grocery shopping or filling up the car with petrol on a set day.
Trying to establish this habit will make you better at managing your money in the long run, as the act of reminding yourself of your outgoing schedule and planning your other expenses for the week ahead will see you save more and more each month. This will develop other savvy habits such as buying a reusable coffee cup and stocking up on coffee for your cupboard, as opposed to buying one from a high street store each day.
If you keep up this practice for the whole of 2022, you may even find that come December, you have mastered the art to such a degree that you can even go a whole week’s worth of days without parting with a single penny.
Whenever we find ourselves low on funds, it is not just our pockets that start to suffer, financial worry can have a huge impact on our mental health – especially if you are someone who others depend on.
One way to ease any stress caused by financial pressure is by spending what money you do have on things that truly make you happy. Once you have worked out your monthly budget and how much you have to spare, give yourself a moment to consider what makes you feel good and prioritise your spending to these things.
Try if you can to invest in things that will benefit both your mental health and physical health, such as taking up a class to learn a new skill like a musical instrument, a cookery course or even a new language. You may even want to find a fun new way to exercise such as rock climbing or a team sport where you can meet new people.
Treating your spending habits with a little bit of self-care is bound to ease some of your financial worries in the new year.
Take Advantage of Deals and Discounts
January is usually the best time of the year for finding cheap deals and bargains, with lots of brands looking to offload products and keep up sales in the aftermath of the busy Christmas season.
In the pre-pandemic world, plenty of restaurants jumped on the trend of offering 50% off food, and many more will be hoping to do the same again provided the conditions are safe enough, so keep your eyes peeled for any offers from your favourite local restaurants.
The practice of heavy reductions in January is not restricted to expensive items and service industry experiences. You may find that festive food such as pigs in blankets, stuffing and even roots vegetables like parsnips are reduced to next to nothing in the aftermath of Christmas and into the new year, so look out for those yellow sticker bargains on the supermarket shelves in the first few days of January to save yourself a pretty penny.