Most of us find January a very long and financially difficult month after the expense of Christmas. But with energy and food costs rising, National Insurance increasing in April and we could well see a second increase in energy costs too – it’s not the best news to start the new year with and can add to existing money struggles.
If you're worried about finances at the moment, join the club. Thousands of households up and down the UK are thinking the same. However, help is at hand. Our money matters team area available to talk about your money worries. Simply fill in our money matters contact form to get in touch: https://www.magna.org.uk/money-matters/money-benefits/money-matters-service
There are also lots of things you can do to save a few quid in the coming months. It won't be for everyone, but here are some useful links and tips we hope you find useful...
1. Switch bank accounts - certain providers offer a fee incentive (up to £150 in some cases) for using their account switch service. A good site to sign up to if you haven't already is Money Saving Expert (https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/ ) to see where the best deals are at the moment. Criteria will apply though so make sure you read the small print. Info on the latest energy advice can also be found on that website.
2. Fight food waste by using an app and saving money at the same time. We sometimes use 'Too Good To Go' which notifies you when local supermarkets and stores have leftovers that aren't sold and are too good to go! A goodie bag can include anything from sarnies, cakes, ready meals and fruit and veg, often ranging in price between £2.50 and £4.00. Suppliers include Costa, Greggs, Morrisons, M&S and local smaller stores. Find it in the app store and become a food waste hero.
3. If you're a Tesco Clubcard member, don't forget they do a Christmas saver club where you can build up your points throughout the year instead of receiving them quarterly or earlier. They're then released to you in November - just in time for the Christmas food shop.
4. Credit card 0% balance transfers can save you hundreds on interest. This is where you shift debt from another credit card that you're paying interest on. Sign up to Money Saving Expert for automatic alerts on the best deals.
5. If eligible, look into the warm home discount with your utility supplier. Schemes open towards the end of the year and are first come first served basis with broader groups so be quick. Some utility companies have already used their funding for the current year, so if you've missed it this time and you're eligible, stick it on the calendar for later in the year when the scheme opens again.
6. Take the 1p savings challenge - This is all about scale over a year! Save one penny on day one, 2p on day two, 3p on the third day and so on. After 365 days you could end up with savings of over £650.
7. Try a ‘no spend’ weekend - Set yourself a ‘no spend weekend’ – one every other month if you can. Do activities like going on walks, movie night, board games, free museums. And if you use up any leftover food from the week as well, this can all really make your salary go further every month.
10. Put strangely-shaped veg in your supermarket trolley - Look out for oddly-shaped veg in boxes for discounts (often quite a few pounds cheaper) because many customers don’t like the way it looks. But if you don’t mind your vegetables coming in strange shapes, it’s an easy saving.
10. Try and avoid monthly insurance bills if you can - Your insurance premiums might look more affordable in any list of insurance quotes, but there’s often a sting – many firms charge high interest if you pay monthly. This can put an extra 10% or more onto your premiums – that’s a whopping £50 more, for a £500 car cover policy for example. Pay upfront if you can.
11. Shopping online? See if you can get paid to buy it - Once you’ve found the best price with your choice of retailer online, always check to see if cashback is available – try Topcashback, Quidco and other major cashback sites you can find through online research. There’s often a code that can give you a discount on your chosen item.
12. Pay off your pricey debts as a top priority - Let’s say you’ve got £1,000 on a card at 18% (£180 per year interest bill) and, at the same time, £1,000 in savings earning 1% (giving you £10 per year). If you could pay off the card balance with your savings, you’d be £170 better off a year. It won’t be for everyone’s circumstances as it’ll mean your savings being used up in one go, but you won’t have the interest to pay.