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January: How to Cope with the Hardest Month Financially

January is a difficult month financially, as we start to feel the squeeze following the Christmas splurge. Research by YouGov reveals the average spend in December is 29% higher than a typical month.

January 2022

© Marina Rich / Shutterstock.com

Biggest expense

The biggest expense this year was Christmas presents, with women tending to spend more on gifts than men. Festive food cost us around £154; breaks in hotels cost an average of around £197 per person; and social events set us back approximately £130 each.

Determined to make up for a very underwhelming Christmas 2020, many Brits went well above their means, with 14% of the population saying their debt level increased significantly over the festive period. Of those with existing financial commitments, such as payment plans on debts, 38% say they are likely to fall behind this January.

Now all the jollities are out of the way, those already in debt are now worried about having overspent, with 51% saying they are already severely overstretched. A staggering 38% say they feel “distressed” about their finances.

 

January aftermath

January is likely to be a lean month for many people – 43% of the people surveyed said January is the worst month of the year for their finances. Times are hardest for the 25 to 54 age group, according to a survey by Saga Savings, with 54% of them feeling the post-Christmas pinch.

With most people getting paid the week before Christmas, the gap between pay cheques seems particularly large, as a lot of us won’t be paid again until Friday 31st January. Of those on monthly salaries, 38% say this will cause them problems and they may struggle before their next pay packet.

In addition, 29% say their utility bills have gone up, causing more misery, and 10% of small business- people say paying their January tax bill will be a struggle.

Four million adults aged 25 to 54 say they’re spending extra on their credit cards to survive January. One-third say they “don’t know” how they will manage this month.


Managing finances

People can take steps to help manage their finances during January, such as budgeting carefully and trying to make savings wherever possible.

You can save an average of £357 per year by switching your energy supplier, according to uSwitch.com, but many are deterred because they fear the switching process will be a hassle – not to mention, a lot of energy providers are going by the wayside due to their own financial strife.

Consider changing your credit card to an alternative with a better interest rate. Choose one that charges 0% interest on purchases or one that has an interest-free period of at least six months, enabling you to spread your costs over a period of time.

Build up your credit score before applying for any extra funds to see if you’re eligible for the best deals on loans, mortgages, credit cards and overdrafts. Simple steps you can take include making sure you’re on the electoral roll, meeting your repayments on time to build a history of responsible borrowing and paying household bills on time.

A logbook loan is another potential step that might help you get through a tough January. Use a responsible lender, such as Logbook Loans 247, to borrow money using your vehicle as security. You can continue to enjoy full use of your vehicle while repaying the loan, so this is a perfectly viable solution.

One thing people rarely do is borrow money from family members. Nine out of ten people surveyed by Saga said they felt uncomfortable asking, while 45% said they preferred to try and fix their own problems. A minority said they never borrowed money from family members because it would cause bad feelings if they couldn’t afford to repay it.

One thing is for sure; it’s likely to be a difficult year, so we all need to buckle up and prepare ourselves for a bumpy ride!

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