So that’s that then. Christmas came and went – all that fuss and it’s over in a day.
Except it’s not over, not really, because now you have to deal with the hangover. Not just the boozy hangover from all the partying, but also the financial hangover from all that spending.
According to a survey by National Debtline, more than 16.5 million Brits were planning on using credit to get through Christmas, which equates to around one in three eligible people.
With the shops falling all over each other to provide the best discounts during the festive season, even the most frugal of people can be easily lured into over spending.
That’s why you need a plan – one that is going to help cure you of the financial hangover, without involving raw eggs. So here it is.
Adopt the Right Attitude
OK, you wake up on the 2nd of January and reality starts to kick in. It’s now the 10th, and the cloud has still not shifted. You have two options;
1. Burst into tears, hide under your duvet, and don’t answer the door to anyone – especially not the debt collectors.
2. Spring out of bed, and take immediate action to begin reducing those debts.
The trick is to spend every spare moment of every day during January thinking about how you can clear your debts by either saving money… or making money.
PART 1 – SAVE MONEY
There are a few things you can do right away to save money during January.
Switch your Providers
The first step is to take a look at the standing orders and direct debits in your accounts. Are there any that you could save money on if you switched to a different provider?
If you haven’t already done so, shop around for cheaper bills providers. There are plenty of websites that will help you switch your providers. Uswitch.com is a good place to start as they provide comparisons for energy providers; broadband, TV and landline providers; mobile phone providers; banking product providers, for your loans and credit cards; and insurance, including life insurance, home insurance, health insurance, etc.
Take care to read the small print before you go ahead and switch – don’t just rush into the first thing that looks a bit cheaper than what you are paying, as the chances are that looks may be deceiving. Check the price per unit, contract length, other fees and charges, and anything else that may affect the price.
Reduce Food Bills
One way to reduce your food bills is by reducing food waste. In order to do this, you need a plan. It’s always vaguely annoying putting plans together, but that’s what Sunday evenings are for. While you are watching TV, simply choose a few recipes that you are going to cook that week and make sure your combination of meals helps you to use up left over ingredients. For example, if you are buying a butternut squash, and your recipe calls for half a butternut squash, make sure you pick another recipe that will allow you to use up the remaining portion.
This gets said so many times, but when you are writing your shopping list, plan everything that you need, and when you go to the supermarket – STICK TO THE LIST! No going off course because 10 kilos of pork steaks are reduced by 75%. This will only lead to confusion over your meals, as it will involve replanning to avoid waste, and this will take up more of your valuable time which could be put to far better use.
Even better, while you are planning your shopping list on the Sunday, consider getting it delivered, and then you can shop online as you plan. This will allow you a little bit of flexibility.
Remember to include adequate snacks for the week in your shopping list, as if you are peckish at 7 o’ clock at night, after a hard days work, you are likely to come back with a lot more than you bargained for from your trip to the local shop.
This may sound obvious, but it’s easier said than done and requires concious effort on your behalf. This is particularly the case in the January sales period, when there are so many ridiculous bargains around. Remember that every time you buy something, this will add to your debt. The pink bikini may be only £5, and you think it may save you money in the summer; but you won’t be left with any money to go on your summer holiday unless you stick to your goal.
Remember, every day you don’t spend anything, you are actually saving money and reducing your debt. Full marks to you.
PART 2 – EARN MONEY
The goal of reducing and eliminating your debt will be achieved twice as quickly if at the same time as saving money, you are also trying to earn some extra money. Here are a few suggestions to put you on the right track.
Sell Your Unwanted Items
Time for a stock check. How many games consoles do you really need? Probably just one, so sell the old ones and get a bit of money for them. Admittedly, January is a competitive time on Ebay and Preloved, as everyone is at it with their unwanted Christmas gifts and old stuff. However, there is also a market of people out there who know that January is the time to snap up a bargain on Ebay and Preloved, so it is well worth a jolly good go.
Ebay is very easy to use these days, you can simply take pictures of the items on your phone (maybe scrub them up a bit before you do and present them nicely), and then add the entire listing through an app on your phone or through the website on your smartphone. If you prefer to use the computer, you can still request that the photos be taken directly from your phone. Ebay will send you the link to be able to do it. So no excuses, it will take no time at all.
Can you paint, draw, or sew? There are plenty of websites and social media groups for creative types that will help you get your products noticed. So whether you can make a bit of jewellery, put together pretty dried flower arrangements, create personalised pictures, or anything else, you have the potential to sell your products and make a bit of extra cash!
Just some of the websites that you can sell through include Zazzle.co.uk, Etsy.co.uk and RedBubble.com. Etsy also has the ability for you to team up with creatives from your local area, so you can all share each other’s products and help them reach a wider audience.
There are also several apps available to help you sell, including Spreesy, which allows you to sell your products directly through Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter. With Spreesy, you are not just limited to selling your own products, you also have access to a huge catalogue of other people’s products that you can sell to your audience in return for commission. This massively widens the scope for earning money.
Offer Your Services
If you are not creative, you may have other skills that you can put to good use. For example, can you offer a spot of cleaning or ironing to your neighbours for a small fee? Maybe you could do a bit of gardening? It may even be worth seeking out a part time job if you have the time, just until you have started to make an impact on the debt.
Another option is to offer your services through an online agency such as PeoplePerHour.com, and Upwork.com. If you have any online skills that you can put to use, such as personal assistant skills, writing skills, web design, or anything else, then set up a profile and get yourself out there. Browse the types of jobs available to find out what is on offer.
FINAL STOP – FREE DEBT ADVICE
Whether you manage any, all, or none of the above, do not allow yourself to worry too much because help is always at hand. The National Debtline is a good place to start and there are also smaller, local debt service providers in each area.