January is a dreary month. All the food, alcohol and festive partying is catching up with us. We've got to go back to work after having time off with our family and get back into our normal routine, and to top it off, we don't have any money because we spent it all on Christmas presents.
To help prevent an entire month of eating Smart Price noodles and staying in every weekend watching re-runs of Only Fools and Horses, here are some handy ways to save money throughout January.
Have a Clear out
January is a month of fresh starts and new beginnings. Start the year as you mean to go on by having a clear out of your wardrobe and cupboards – anything you no longer use or wear can be put aside and sold to make a little bit of extra cash. My general rule of thumb is if it hasn't been used/worn for 3 months, get rid of it! Try sites like Preloved or Gumtree first as they don't charge to list items- there are also lots of Facebook groups that you can join to buy and sell things, just look for one in your area.
You can also look out for free listing weekends on eBay. You never know- someone might be desperate to bid on that shoe polish set you received from the office Secret Santa! If you were lucky enough to receive a shiny new phone for Christmas you could also use a website like Sell my Mobile to sell your old one. Bargain hunters can currently fetch up to £48 for Apple’s first iPhone, and up to £115 for an old Samsung Galaxy R i9100.
Budgeting your money for the month ahead really does help when you see where your money goes in black and white. This spending calculator from This is Money helps you see what percentage of your income is spent on things like transport and leisure, so you can work out if there is anything you can cut back on. There are also lots of templates you can use to create your own 'monthly budget' spreadsheet so you can save in advance for any special occasions throughout the month.
The January sales are also great for picking up things at a discount that you would be buying anyway. I like to sign up to newsletters of all the stores I shop at as they normally email you the date and time that their sale starts (and you can always unsubscribe afterwards). Lots of Christmas cards and decorations will also be heavily discounted- perfect for next year!
Research free activities in your area
With a little bit of research, you'll be able to find lots of free things to do in your area this January.
From standing in the rain without getting wet at the Barbican in London, to seeing the stars at Hampstead Observatory, to seeing body parts turned into works of art at Manchester's Museum of Science and Industry, you'll be spoilt for choice. All it takes is the click of a button to find events local to you.
If you have children, you can also save your old Christmas cards for them to get creative with on a rainy day. Help them cut off the front of the card and stick it to a new backing to make Thank You postcards to Santa, or cut the cards into various shapes to make a jigsaw puzzle. They could also cut images from different cards to make collages or scrap books.
Making Small Changes
There are lots of ways you can save money on your household bills if you don't mind spending a few hours using price comparison websites. Checking if you can make a saving on things like household insurance, gas and electricity, car insurance and TV packages can save you a fortune.
Making small changes to the way you use appliances around the home can also save you a lot of money- changing the time that your heating comes on and off by half an hour each side for example. Bathroom and kitchen extractor fans suck in air, so if you use them while your heating is on they'll be taking in the heat that you're paying for.
Finally, if you have any spare cash in your current account, consider opening up an ISA and start saving- with tax free interest up to £3000 annually.
Hopefully, following some of the above tips can help make this January a little more bearable. And if all else fails, if you managed to catch some drunken Christmas mishaps from the office party on tape, you could always send it to You've Been Framed to see if you could win £250. Just don't tell your friends!
Image Via 401 (K) 2012's Flickr