January Money Saving Tips

Whether you're starting back to work, participating in 'Dry January' or hitting the gym with a new fitness regime, January is the month when many of us decide to turn over a new leaf. As well as the complete loss of Christmas cheer, it can be a particularly challenging month in terms of money, so what better time to assess your finances and consider cutting back. Even if you funded the festive period without running up a host of credit card bills, the month of indulgence can still leave a money hangover to be dealt with in January.
Below are some tips on how to embrace the new year by getting your finances in shape for 2020.

Dial Down Your Heating Bill
It may be the coldest time of the year, but now is the time to make cutbacks and save on those costly heating bills. If you're not already doing any of the following things, give them try and watch your utility bills plummet:
• Clear your vents- Move all furniture and belongings away from any heating vents or radiators to allow them to deliver all the heat that you're paying for.
• Decorate for warmth- fleecy sheets on your bed, warm blankets on the sofa and rugs on the floor are all accessories that will keep you feeling cosy.
•Turn down the thermostat- A couple degrees cooler when you're out or asleep can make a big difference to your heating bills, without any sacrifice from you. A programmable thermostat can do it for you!
•Take advantage of free solar heating- Open your curtains during the day to allow the sun to warm your home and close them at night to trap in the heat.
• Dress for cold weather- layer up, invest in a cosy pair of slippers and add a warm jumper or dressing gown to your at-home attire.

New Year, New Budget
As your life changes each year, your budget should follow suit. Pick out a day in January to sit down, assess your income and develop a personal fiscal plan for the year ahead.
If you're serious about trimming the fat from your budget, the first rule is to be realistic with your plan. Include an allowance for spending on things like coffee, vending machine snacks and meals on the go to get a complete picture of your current spending habits.
• Assess your monthly expenses and total your earnings (after tax) as a way of getting started.
• Test out the effectiveness of your current spending habits by subtracting your expenses from your earnings, to see whats left over at the end of the month.
• If your budget comes out negative, crunch the numbers until it fits (this may mean going back over expenditure and seeing where you could cut back!)
• Build-in any savings, investments or one-off payments you can expect throughout the year.
• Put your budget to work- the most important part of budgeting is following through and sticking to your limits. Assess how you're doing each month and make adjustments where necessary.

Switch It Up
January is usually a quieter month with a lot less on the social calendar, so it's a good time to review your utilities and think about switching suppliers, or even joining a new bank.
Finding a new bank may even garner you some extra cash, with some offering a one-off payment if you open account with them. Shop around online and see if you can manage to bag yourself a New Year cash injection.
Another way to switch and slash is to negotiate for a better deal with your utility providers, such as electricity, wifi or your heating source.
Many people get complacent and stay loyal to the same company for years, but a quick search online and a few phone calls could lower your rates and strengthen that shiny new bank account of yours.
A good idea is to find some better quotes online to use as a bargaining chip when you attempt to land a better deal.
Revisiting your subscription services such as Netflix and Amazon and getting rid of a few rarely used services is another way to cut back in this area.

Eat What's In Season
A great way to keep your grocery bill down is to eat what's in season. Unknown to many, quite a few fruits and vegetables are widely available through winter and there's the added bonus that money can't buy- what's in season in your area always tastes better.
In January, you're best served to buy broccoli, brussel sprouts (if you can face any more!), cabbage, cauliflower, grapefruit, kale, leeks, lemons, oranges, parsnips, tangerines and turnips.
Stick with that selection throughout February also and watch your grocery bill shrink.

Sell, Sell, Sell!
While you're in the process of reducing your food bill you could raise some extra cash and create extra space in your home by selling your unwanted items.
Online markets such as eBay are useful if you don't fancy getting up with the Sunday dawn and flogging out of your car boot.
Whether its clothes, electrical items or old records and CDs, a few hours of dedication can boost your January income while decluttering your life.
Mazumamobile.com is one of the many websites you can use to sell your old mobile phone, with payments of up to £50 for a fully functional handset or £10 for a faulty one.
To ensure your online safety, process all transactions through PayPal.

Some Extra Money Saving Tips To Live By:
• Embrace the sharing economy- there's a lot more to this than the likes of eBay. Why not take it in turns driving to work with a friend or colleague? Or rent your your spare room on Airbnb if you own your house? The sharing economy is set to grow and you could be a part of it while slashing your bills.
• Watch out for deals- following large retailers and the shops you usually buy from is an easy way to save money if you can make use of any deals and offers. Supermarkets often advertise limited-time only price cuts, while restaurants and clothing websites will issue discount codes to use at the checkout. Savings like these are right under your nose, as long as you're following the right sites. Amazon, Asos and Debenhams are some of the retailers who tweet about their latest deals, both online and in store.
• Assess your spending and ditch the unused direct debits…do you really need that gym membership? If there is a strong likelihood that you will take the odd Netflix & Take-Out binge and avoid the treadmills for a few weeks this year, then you're probably better ditching the membership and paying-as-you-go instead. Keep an eye out for discounted day, week or month passes and purchase when you're feeling motivated, rather than losing money if you skip a few sessions.
• Couponing- If you can bear it, couponing is an effective way of slashing your grocery bill each week. Holly Smith broke records in December 2015 when she paid for a £1,200 shop entirely with vouchers, and is now among an army of "extreme couponers" and runs her own website offering tips on how to match her success.

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