There’s a lot said about the January Blues: how it’s cold, dark, there’s no money left in the pot after the festive season and the long gap since last payday, and it’s the most miserable time of the year. So far, so typical.
But we think there’s actually a lot good about January, certainly in terms of taking control of your finances – here are 5 reasons why we’re secret fans of January.
1. Review what goes in and comes out
There’s nothing quite like the start of the year for taking stock of your finances, and budgeting for the year ahead.
Spending some time balancing out your income against your outgoings can be beneficial in the long run, and can also make you feel like you’re in control. It can also help you work out when to allow room for certain irregular or seasonal costs, for example a direct debit like a TV licence, a one-off annual charge like insurance, or things like birthdays or special events – as well as stopping outgoings you may no longer need or use, like a gym membership for example.
2. Start as you mean to go on
January is also a good time to make use of some of the new year resolutions you may have made. If you’re taken on a challenge to save for a holiday, only buy the shopping you need, or make your credit payments on time, then the start of the year is a great time to set achievable targets with clear landmarks ahead.
3. Bag a holiday bargain
Also, at this time of year fewer people than usual take holidays. With tourist spots sure to be less crowded, it may not be the hottest or most thriving time of the year but there are likely to be plenty of European resorts and cities with reasonable holiday or short break deals available. Not to mention planning ahead for the summer holidays, with flights for the summer months less likely to be close to full occupancy and potentially cheaper.
4. Make some simple savings
Many local councils charge council tax over ten months, meaning that there’s no payment due in February or March – this could be a great help when budgeting for the winter months. There may also be some final discounts around from shops with stock left to shift after the new year sales before the new season’s stock arrives.
Use the train for family trips? There are railcards that could save you money. Need a hotel? Check voucher websites for useful ‘percentage off’ code campaigns, or cashback deals. Finally, with the weather likely to be predictably poor, perhaps it’s a good chance to take advantage of it and save some money by staying in.
5. Review your finances and take control
Taking control of your finances can help you be better off in the long term. Your credit report can show you if you’ve missed some payments on cards or loans you have. Lenders like to see evidence that you might be a responsible borrower, and given that late or missed repayments stay on your credit report for at least six years, it’s a good idea to make your repayments on time.
Also, make sure your credit report is accurate and up-to-date and try to stay within the agreed credit limits. Checking your Experian Credit Score before you apply for new credit can give you a good indication of whether or not you’d get accepted.