Why January is the best time to take charge of your financial future

The last mince pies have been polished off, the leftover turkey’s been turned into a curry, and the bag full of torn wrapping paper has finally left the building. It’s time to leave Christmas behind, and start looking ahead to a brand new year. 

Maybe it’s a chance to get into some good habits, and kick some bad ones. If you’re looking for ways to boost your financial wellbeing in 2023, then you’ve come to the right place! Here are our top reasons for taking control of your money this January.

Don’t wait for spring to do some cleaning

If you’re one of the lucky people that gets a few extra days off around the winter holidays, then now is a great time to get a handle on your finances. It can be difficult to find the time and the mental energy to really engage with our money, but the quieter days in January could be the perfect time to do a bit of New Year's accounting.

Here are some bits and bobs you might want to look into:

  • Close any old accounts you aren’t using anymore.
  • If you’ve got a pension pot (most folks do!), double check you know where it is and how to access it.
  • If you have outstanding credit card balances, this might be a good time to look for a balance transfer card.
  • If you’ve got savings, this could be the time to sort them into pots: emergency fund, holiday savings, investment funds etc.
  • Start the year off right and set a monthly budget for 2023.

New year, new account

New Year’s resolutions can be great, as they can help us achieve our goals and hold us accountable in moments of weakness. Unfortunately, plenty of them also come with additional costs. 

Some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions revolve around diet and exercise. But the classic “2023 is the year I get fit” resolution has the potential to spiral your spending if you go all in on meal plans, personal trainers and new workout gear.

Instead of going from 0 to 100 and running before you can jog, make sure your first step towards fitness is a smart money-move: for example, find a gym with some “New Year, New You” promotions. They might waive their joining fee, or give you money off the first few months, but either way, January can be a great time to sign up for memberships if you’ve got plans to do it anyway.

And it doesn’t stop with the gyms. Meal-prep boxes, streaming services and more could offer some juicy deals in January. Not everything has to be about New Year resolutions! If you’re already using these services and have plans to continue, then it might be worth speaking to their customer service team about any promotional offers that might be available. You could be surprised by what you can save!

There are all sorts of ways to save on resolutions, so have a think about how you could stick to your plans AND save a few quid in the process.

  • Want to read more this year? Try to buy second-hand, or track down a local book swap!
  • Trying to improve your sleeping habits? Find a free app alternative to expensive sleep trackers.
  • Looking to be more charitable? Instead of donating cash, try volunteering to donate your time instead!
  • YouTube is an amazing resource when it comes to learning new skills. If you’re determined to brush up on your DIY, gardening, cookery, or even lace tatting, then YouTube could help you learn loads about a new hobby, all for free!

Spend savvy to save in the sales

It’s no secret that there are plenty of bargains to be had during the annual January sales. Almost every major – and independent – retailer will have steep discounts in place to help them shift their excess stock after the festive shopping season has died down. 

That means there’s some cracking deals to be had, but don’t be lured into spending on something just because it looks like a good deal.

Ask yourself a few simple questions:

  • Do I need this? (It’s okay if you don’t NEED it, but only if you’ve got some disposable cash!)
  • Can I afford it?
  • Is it worth it?
  • Will I use it?
  • Can I find it cheaper elsewhere?

These answers can help you work out if you’re spending for the sake of it, or taking advantage of a good deal. January is a great time to snap up a bargain on a new sofa if yours is falling apart at the seams, but maybe you can skip the reversible sequin cushions with a picture of Ed Sheeran on them. (Yes, even if they are 50% off!)

If you’re careful, and spend only what you need to, where you need to, you’ll basically be double-saving. First by skipping the unnecessary spending, and then again when you save £££s in discounts!

Make the most of the New Year lull

It’s been a tricky year, financially speaking, and even if you didn’t splash out as much as usual during the festive season, you might still be feeling the pinch. 

Friends and family might well be looking to cut back, tighten the purse strings, and generally quieten things down during the winter months. You might want to make the most of this quiet time to work on your financial habits. 

The drop in social expenses could mean you’ve got some money to put aside, so why not get into the habit of saving a little each week or month? If you can get a good saving streak going, it’ll be easier to keep it up once the social calendar starts to fill up a bit. 

January is a great time to start building new habits. Motivation is often high, and you can capitalise on this to build discipline that will set you up for long-term success. 

Here are a couple of ideas:

  • Every Friday or Saturday night (whenever you’re usually out at a social event) pop £10 into your savings account and turn that would-be night out into a money-saving night in.
  • If you like to get together with some mates and watch the footie at your local, then celebrate the return of the premier league with some store-bought bevs (often over 50% cheaper!) at home.
  • Instead of going out for dinner with the gang, or getting them round for a takeaway, try hosting a potluck. Ask someone to bring a starter, someone else to bring the dessert, and you can supply the main. That way you can spread the cost (and the washing up!).

January is a dark month, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a difficult one. By staying on top of your spending, and taking the opportunity to set yourself some targets for the year ahead, you could make 2023 the year that you put your financial wellbeing first.

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