January is the time for optimism. It is a time to make new habits, break the old ones and generally change the things that you don’t like. Clearly you can do this at any time of the year but January is as good a time as any and many feel invigorated at this time of the year to make plans and have a renewed energy to change the things that need attention. For me this year is going to be about personal growth. I want to shake the way that I sometimes dwell on the small stuff, the stuff that bothers me and I forget to look at my big picture. I forget to be grateful for what I do have and can be accused of focussing on what I don’t have.
For many January is a challenging time. Many people will be feeling weighed down by the pressure of the season and have felt obligated to spend beyond their means during Christmas. As a result many will be left nursing a battered bank balance come January. Added with the fact that many working adults will have been paid early in December means that these people will be attempting to navigate a five week gap until pay day.
While most people will be feeling the January pinch, it is likely that around 13 million adults aged 18-54 – working families who are significant users of credit will be particularly struggling during the month of January. This group generally has a low savings buffer (£135 on average) and are often just one income shock away from problems. I am lucky that we are quite secure but I don’t take that for granted and as a freelance writer my income fluctuates dramatically and that is something that I have had to get used too since leaving teaching.
Therefore I am making a concious effort to save where I can.
- Once the children are back at school I will be looking at where we are wasting money in the home. I always recommend checking your Direct Debits, standing orders etc once a year to check nothing has been forgotten and you are paying for something you no longer need or use.
- Check where your savings are going. Our eldest has just turned 16 and we are therefore setting up the new ISA that is aimed at anyone saving for a first time house in the next ten years. The level of interest is above usual savings accounts and if she does buy a house in the next ten years the Government will be topping up the account for every £250 she has saved in there. If you are new to saving the money advice service has saving advice.
- The teen recently upgraded her mobile and then we looked at how much we could get for her old one I was shocked that it was over £60 considering we had bought it second hand 2 years ago. I dug out my old iphone that was being kept as a spare (which wasn’t really needed) and we have sent them both off and will reciieve over £120! Easy money that was sitting in a drawer!
- Selling other household things that no longer get used. After the iPhone discovery we decided to have a clear out and see what else we were hoarding. I spilt things into three piles, keep, charity and sell. I have used Facebook selling sites and Ebay to make a little bit of money.
- I plan to get fit but I am doing this without the pricey gym membership. I will be pulling on my trainers again and using natures finest playground of my local community to get running. Using a fitbit tracks my efforts and the initial price of a fitbit outweighs pricey gyms and keeps my motivation high. I have a little healthy competition with my husband, daughter sister in law and dad to motivate us all.