Everyone is familiar with that January feeling – the ultimate letdown as you realise that not only is your wallet empty, but tumbleweed is the chief inhabitant of your bank account. There’s only one thing to do: implement these ten savvy habits and not only will you survive the month, you’ll ensure that this time next year you’ll have more than a few pennies to spare.
Rule 1: Stop paying for convenience.
Bottled water? Toastie from the local coffee shop? Take-out tonight? It’s time to stop paying double for what you could do just as easily yourself. We all trip up occasionally, but this is a great rule for January as it ties in with resolutions to eat healthier.
Just think about it: if you eat lunch out every day, you’re spending at least £25 a week. Multiply that by the number of weeks you work and… the difference would easily pay for a weekend away!
Rule 2: Drop unnecessary habits.
Quit paying for things you don’t really need – or use. Things like smoking, drinking, gym memberships and magazine subscriptions need a long hard look. Don’t forget the less obvious bills, direct debits and regular expenditures such as phone and energy bills, and even your TV license. See if you can get your telly injection from on demand services such as Netflix.com and catch-up TV like Channel4.com, before promptly cancelling that unnecessary expense.
Rule 3: Make smart swaps.
That book that you bought but never read, those shoes you’ve only worn once, that DVD you’ve watched and will probably never watch again? Say goodbye! Look around your house and pick out anything you aren’t using or are finished with and host a swapping party with friends or neighbours. This is great because it allows you to have that much-needed clear out AND get new things. Win win.
Rule 4: Take up sewing.
Sales? Who needs them! We’ve all got that broken handbag, busted jacket and ripped pair of jeans we promised we would repair, but instead lies languishing at the bottom of our wardrobe. Let this month be the month: learn how to sew and repair damaged clothing and you’ve instantly got a few ‘new’ pieces to add into your wardrobe.
Rule 5: Switch to own brands.
Did you know that the main difference between the big name products and supermarket versions isn’t down to what’s in it or how it’s made? It’s all in the branding - you are literally paying extra for their advertising. Quit while you’re ahead and stick with own brands, which sometimes cost as little as half price.
Rule 6: Buy in bulk.
This may seem counterproductive if you’re broke, but stick with us. Stocking up now up on essentials that won’t go off like toilet paper, tinned beans and even Christmas decorations will save you a lot come this time next year.
Rule 7: Start batch cooking.
Start cooking double or triple the amount you need. As the ingredients often come cheaper in bulk you’ll not only save money but time as well, as you’ll have dinner sorted for a few nights each week. Slow cookers are ideal for this sort of forward planning. Minimal effort is required to transform cheap cuts of meat into tasty and tender joints for half the price of a ‘better’ cut.
Rule 8: Master the art of couponing.
Alright it may take time but done well, couponing can slash your grocery bills. There are plenty of guides and help available on websites such as Moneysavingexpert.com, which offers a handy newsletter alerting you to new deals every week. From using sites such as Groupon.co.uk and Wowcher.co.uk, to keeping your eyes peeled in magazines and newspapers, you’ll soon be a dab hand. Bit of a social media fanatic? Follow brands and don't forget to search on social media for new deals, but always remember to be careful and check the offers are coming from a legitimate source.
Rule 9: Entertain cheaply.
This one's simple: Instead of going to your usual restaurant, pub or cinema, check out free event listings on websites such as List.co.uk for fun, free things to do in your area. A great alternative is to invite friends over and ask everyone to bring a home cooked dish or a board game. You’ll all save money and have fun coming up with stuff to do. What are you waiting for!
Rule 10: Save energy.
January is one of the coldest and darkest months of the year, so it’s unrealistic to turn off the heating and sit in the dark. Instead, start practicing good habits that will not only serve you now but will actually benefit the whole family all year round. Turning electrical appliances off when not in use (and we mean off, not on standby), using energy saving bulbs and looking into energy-saving gadgets to cut costs, such as radiator boosters, are all great ways to start. It’s important to consider your commute too and instead of always taking the tube, train or car, consider walking, cycling or car-sharing. There are great sites such as liftshare.com that can help you find others going in the same direction and you never know, you might make a new friend.
Like these ideas? Don’t forget to let us know how well you’re doing with your January savings.