January can be a pretty sobering time of year, especially if you’ve blown the budget on Christmas, and you need an emergency tightening the belt strategy. For most of us, Christmas is the most expensive time of the year, and it can leave it short for weeks afterwards. If you’re worried about coping with the aftermath of the holiday period, here are some top tips to make life more bearable.
Measuring the scale of the problem
If you know you’ve overspent over the holidays, the last thing you probably want to do is sit down and work out the extent of your shortfall. However, the sooner you do this, the better. It’s always best to have a firm handle on your finances, rather than guessing what’s going on in your accounts. Check your balances and credit card statements, and work out a strategy to cover costs in the month ahead, and pay back what you owe. Budgeting is a really useful tool, especially if you’re trying to minimize spending. Work out what you’ve got available, and then start planning how you’ll pay off cards or loans.
In January, most of us tend to scale back our spending. We swap the endless stream of parties of the festive period for cozy nights in front of the TV, and the indulgent buffets for cheap eats. There are many ways you can save in January, and food shopping is one of them. Make use of leftovers, and raid the freezer. Stick to simple, inexpensive meals, and cook in batches. This will save you money, and it’s also much quicker and easier if you’ve had a busy day at work and you don’t feel like slaving over a hot stove.
You can also save money by making some calls and checking that you’re getting the best deals on your insurance, TV and broadband packages, your cell phone contract and your gas and electricity. Many of us tend to opt for the easy way out and renew contracts and policies without even looking at the alternatives. However, if you can spare a few minutes to compare power companies or investigate different insurance or broadband providers, you could save a lot of money. New customers tend to get the best offers, as companies are trying to lure them in and prevent them from going to a competitor.
Having fun for free
You don’t always have to spend money to have fun. If you’re feeling the winter blues setting in, consider ways you can socialize and enjoy yourself without spending a ton of money. Invite friends around for film night instead of paying to go to the movies. Cook a meal at home for family rather than booking a table at your favorite restaurant. Go for a family bike ride or hit the snow-covered hills and go sledding. Sometimes, the best things in life really are free. If you can be creative, and get friends and family involved, you can beat those winter blues and stick to your budget.
Tightening our belts after Christmas is part and parcel of life for many people. Hopefully, these tips will help you save money without succumbing to the January blues.