You’ve already crashed and burned on the New Year’s resolutions, the miserable weather and dark days are getting you down, work is a real struggle after the Christmas break and financially, it feels like the end of the month can’t come soon enough.
Today is ‘Blue Monday’ officially the most miserable day and Co-operative Energy has outlined a series of simple steps which can not only see you through to the end of the month but help you to make significant changes which will benefit you from this point onwards.
First of all don’t let everything get on top you, January can be a long, hard and depressing month for many but it’s also a great time to reconsider your finances and start afresh for the year ahead. You’ll feel in great shape after tackling any money matters and updating your budget to free up some much needed cash after Christmas.
At Co-operative Energy we believe that carrying out a simple ‘life laundry’ can help you to get to grips with many of the financial hardships that have such an impact in January.
Hopefully the following steps will help put a smile back on your face before the month is out....
Step 1 – Get to grips with your household budget
Take a look at your budget and write down all incoming cash and essential outgoing payments. Then decide which unnecessary costs you can cut out (like magazines, unused cable or satellite entertainment packages or meals out) and see how much you could save. There are ‘cutback calculators’ available online which can help you to do this and put a framework in place https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/tools/cut-back-calculator
If you can put any savings you make aside, these will soon mount up and could be put towards a holiday fund or in preparation for any emergency or unexpected expenses later down the line.
Look at your bank statements too. Are there any mystery direct debits such as the gym membership you signed up for last January, used for a month and then forgot about completely? If so – cancel it for immediate savings.
Step 2 – Shop around and compare
Now it’s time to consider where more significant savings can be made such as on household bills - gas and electricity or phone and broadband. It is likely that there are better deals available so it can really pay off to spend some time shopping around – there are plenty of comparison sites to get you started.
Why not put aside half a day at the weekend to tackle the finances or even some time in the evening on Blue Monday itself! The savings can amount to hundreds of pounds and it really isn’t as daunting as it would appear once you put your mind to it. It’s also worth considering helping older relatives or friends to do the same – they might not have the equipment such as laptops, tablets and smartphones that can help to make the whole process so much easier.
Begin with the biggest bills, for example, energy - look at some of the short and long term fixed deals out there. Co-operative Energy offers a very competitive one, two and three year tariff which means you can safeguard your energy prices for up to four winters and maybe even save some money by switching in the first place!
Record numbers of households switched energy provider at the end of last year, after the 'big six' firms announced inflation-busting price increases
An estimated 150,000 families left the big six energy suppliers altogether in protest at spiralling prices, and turned to one of the smaller alternatives. Many will have saved hundreds of pounds by switching to a cheaper tariff.
Just last week the new Which? annual energy survey revealed that the big six had scored the lowest overall customer score among energy companies serving Great Britain proving that it’s not all about price. Good customer service is of paramount importance to consumers. http://consumerinsight.which.co.uk/
Once you’ve sorted out your outgoings and household bills – aim bigger! If your mortgage deal ends soon check out what other deals might be available. The same applies to insurance policies - when renewing don’t just stay with the same policy provider shop around to see if you can save more money.
Step 3 – Keep on top of things
After you’ve done all that all you need to do is to keep it up. Think about all areas of expenditure where you can make potential savings and plan for the year ahead. Keep your own priorities in mind, whether it’s a pension, a family holiday or a new car. Use apps and online tools to help you stay financially fit - they will help you to keep track and remain in the driving seat.
These three simple steps will provide peace of mind helping you to kick Blue Monday into touch and giving you the motivation to make a great start to 2014.