January can feel like a dull and depressing month, especially when it comes to finances. It can be so tempting throughout Christmas to over-spend on gifts and food, that when January hits, it can feel like a real drain. Many people suffer from the ‘January blues’ which can spill over into February and March and even beyond – if the debt was that bad. It can takes months to clear and this can bear a real burden on your mind and stress levels.
In fact, debt.org claims that research has found that worrying about debt triggers stress, which can really impact your mental health. They say, “Studies show mental health problems decrease self-control, increase spending and basically mess up a person’s financial judgment.”
With this in mind, let’s look at a few easy ways we can tackle finances head-on in 2019, to avoid any extra stress:
- Organise it all. It may sounds simple, but organising your finances and writing all the incomings and outgoings down on a spreadsheet is a really good place to start. Create an Excel spreadsheet if you can, and use the formula functions on there to add up the amounts you are committed to paying each month. Then, you’ll be able to see where any money goes missing, or that old gym membership you forgot you had, and you can address these problems immediately.
- Consolidating debt. Think about your options when it comes to consolidating all your debt into one monthly payment. You may want to choose a loan with a lower interest rate. You may have an unexpected bill you need to pay, and a loan if the only way you can meet your obligations. Whatever the reason, sometimes loans can help people to manage their money better. Wonga, the online loan website, recommend comparing loans thoroughly before choosing an option and weighing up your choices carefully. You need to think about what you need the loan for, how much you need to repay and when. Wonga suggest thinking about loans in terms of ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ What is the end-goal? If you want to get a loan simply to buy yourself a holiday – then this would be a bad use of the loan. If you want it to buy a car, so that you can travel to a full time job – this would be a better use of a loan!
- Start saving. Even a small amount saved is a starting point, so set up a savings account and also a direct debt to pay a certain amount over into the account each month. You can adjust this amount as your circumstances change or improve.
- Re-consider old contracts. Look at energy company payments, insurances and phone contracts. Can you negotiate any of these down? Many savings can be made by calling a company directly and asking them to re-consider your monthly payments.
- Change the way you spend. Being able to pay for something directly on your phone can make buying things all-too-easy. So change the way you pay. Delete apps that allow you to do this, and draw out the cash to pay in shops. Having to part with physical money can be a real wake-up call to some people’s spending habits.