This can be truer than ever in the month following the season of goodwill to all credit cards. As the financial hangover that is January kicks in, many of us can be excused for feeling a little light headed (and light with your wallet). Managing money on a tight budget is never easy and with many people managing the aftermath of Christmas with the help of a short term loans, or additional credit card spending, the majority of us will be looking to cutback in every way possible. Finding ways to manage the months after January successfully on the financial front can be a real balancing act, here are some ideas to keep financially (and mentally) well balanced for the entire Year ahead.
Non-essential Nips and Tucks
Cutting back on the amount you pay out each month will definitely help to make a difference for about a month. However, when it comes to cutting back on essentials we often find out that they were, well essential. Don’t try to rush to cut back on everything, but choose three or four non-essential areas of spending and cut these. Even small cutbacks can mount up take a flask to work rather than buy the (over-priced) coffee from a chain coffee shop on the way to work. Walk or cycle to work a couple of times a week, or consider car sharing with colleagues.
Inadvertent Purchasing Power
Impulse shopping can be deadly for the monthly balance book. Impulse shopping is, by its nature, hard to plan for. However, with constant vigilance you may find it easier than you think. Ideally, for food and grocery shopping, try the online variety. It’s massively convenient, often offers special online only discounts and you won’t be tempted by all the additional purchases that litter the aisles. It can also be done unaccompanied small children, large children and even supposedly responsible adults have been known to pop unexpected items in the trolley. There’s very little you can’t buy online these days, so online should be your first point of call. If you do shop in the real supermarket or High Street, take cash with you; this is a great way to avoid inadvertent overspends and does wonders for your mental arithmetic.
Once the New Year is well and truly underway you can start looking at how to manage some of the bigger monthly bills more efficiently. Credit card companies offer a lot of good deals on interest free balances at this time of year, so check out if you can switch and save few hundred pounds in interest payments. Mortgages and loans should also be double checked to ensure that you’re on the best rate you can get. If you have a good payment history on your mortgage you may find it easier to switch than you think but before ditching your existing supplier contact them to tell them why you are leaving they may offer you a better rate to keep your custom, which saves money and paperwork. The same applies to mobile phones, broadband connections and TV subscriptions. Check that you have the best deal and see if any contracts are due for renewal. If they are, talk to your provider’s customer retention team; with competition being so fierce the chances are that your current provider will cut your costs substantially.
If your finances are a constant source of worry and concern, try thinking about money logically. A number of traits can be found amongst those who manage their money effectively and it’s often a case of mind over matter when it comes to dealing effectively with money coming in and money going out. Track your expenses and create a budget this can help to identify exactly where everything is going and can help combat the feeling that your finances are simply disappearing down a black hole. It also helps to identifies areas that can be cutback or cut out completely. Don’t, however, be tempted to completely cut ‘fun’ from your budget. Despite what you may think, those known for managing their money most effectively actually budget ‘fun’ into the monthly costs; after all, all work and no play, makes Jack or Jill very dull (and frustrated) indeed.