It’s fabulously frugal here again for the last of the series for the year. I hope you had an amazing December! However if you are like most of us, you might have overspent a little over the holidays and now the January dry spell is upon us (ouch!). Here are New Year money saving tips which can help you in the first month and beyond.
1. Jan 1: Beat train and Tube fare season ticket hikes. Most prices rise on Sat (2 Jan), but buy before then and you pay 2015 prices in 2016 (it's nearly always cheaper, though check). This can save big, eg, a year's Cheltenham Spa to London is going up by £96. If you're due to renew, to pay 2015 prices the ticket start date must be 1 Jan or earlier. Some ticket offices are shut on 1 Jan though, so do it today if you can.
2. Jan 3-10: Do your budget. Work back through your bank statements and determine what is coming in, what is going out and where it is going. Then you can determine what you might be able to save. From your next pay, start moving that money destined for savings (or debt repayment) as soon as it lands in your bank account.
3. Jan-Dec: Give up coffee. As a coffee addict myself, I saved over £500 a year by giving up my beloved Starbucks latte. Now I buy a jar of great coffee and make it myself!
4. Feb 14: Valentine’s Day. Love in in the air and this year’s most romantic day falls on a weekend! Success! Skip the fancy night out; get your significant other to come by for a home cooked meal. Decorate your house so it’s a cosy sexy pad and lay some petals on the floor to szhuz the place up! (More on this and more ideas next month)
5. Jan-Dec: Get debt free; no seriously we mean it. Rather than making payments at random, be strategic: Pick one debt to focus on, and pay just the minimum on everything else. With 18% average rates, credit card debt should be your top priority. You have two choices here. You’ll save the most in the long run if you focus first on the card with the highest interest rate. Credit expert John Ulzheimer suggests you get a new card with a 0% intro rate and no balance-transfer fee. Be sure that it has a high enough limit to capture your debt and that you can pay it off before the promotion ends. But if you feel overwhelmed, says Nerd Wallet expert Sean McQuay, tackle the card with the lowest balance so “you’ll have a victory under your belt.” A Kellogg School of Management study found people were more likely to pay off their entire credit card debt if they paid the smallest balances first.
6. Jan-June/Aug: Don’t join the gym. Ok I’m joking. Before you join the gym and get tied into the contract you might never use in Jan, sign up for a run in the summer. This will give you a goal to work towards and you are less likely to give up.
7. Dec: Spend way less time on social media. I’ll be using RescueTime (a free app) to track my social media usage, while comparing that to previous weeks and months. Social media is like junk food for your brain—and my brain finds it especially tasty. My aim is to cut my social media usage by at least half by Dec and use that time to make some money!
8. Jan-Dec: Get healthy. This year, we try easy monthly goals. All we have to do is this one thing each month. Here are mine;
a. January: Drink 8 cups of water every day
b. February: Drink skim milk instead of whole milk
c. March: Exercise 30 minutes 4 times a week
d. April: Bring your lunch to work instead of eating out
e. May: Have fruit for dessert
f. June: Train for a 5K race (See above)
g. July: Skip the seconds
h. August: Ride your bike to work every day
i. September: Eat fish or veggie-burgers instead of red meat all month
j. October: Skip the soda completely
k. November: Only have low-calorie snacks
l. December: Buy yourself some new holiday clothes to show off your new healthy body!