January can be a financially tough month for many people, and a depressing one at that. Christmas and New Year are gone, and there’s still a good few months of cold, dark weather before the spring arrives. Not only this, but you need to make your December pay packet stretch out until you get paid in January, and with Christmas, New Year and the January sales to consider, this may not be the easiest thing in the world. As handy as it is that many employers pay their workers early in December, it can make it harder to last that little bit longer throughout January. There are many ways to help yourself out during this tough month, but it does take a little forward planning. Read on to find out more.

Budget, budget, budget

When you get paid in December, you’ll need to sit down and work out a strict budget. Write down all of your essential expenses and total them up. This is how much you’ll need to take off your pay. The money that you have left will need to be split up so that it lasts you through until you next get paid. Blowing all of this money on your New Year’s outfit and night out is not a good idea, as you’ll need to feed yourself throughout January at least!

Eat cheaply

Speaking of food, you’ll need to keep an eye on your food bill as the excesses of Christmas can really make a dent in your budget. Try cooking things from scratch where you can. It may be worth making all the sauces and stuffing from scratch now, and freezing them for the big day. If you can, buy large bags of pasta and rice to see you through January and stock up on fresh foods from your local greengrocers. If you visit them at the end of the day, it’s likely that you’ll be able to get discounted veg.

Don’t go overboard in the sales

The January sales get bigger and more ‘in your face’ every year, so it can be hard to resist going out and getting some bargains. However well you plan, it can be all too easy to fall into the trap of buying something just because it has a lot of money off it. This is particularly relevant when it comes to clothing and electrical items. If you do want to take advantage of the sales, then allocate a budget for it so you can spend guilt-free.

Don’t take your wallet with you

When you go to work during January, try to avoid taking your wallet with you, as it can be tempting to pick up food in your lunch hour, a coffee on the way back from work and the odd discounted item in the sales. If you need to carry money with you, then allocate a small amount and keep it in a safe place. Do not take your cards out with you as this will only tempt you into spending more than you need to.

Use the library

When it comes to entertainment, your local library may be able to offer some surprisingly cheap or free solutions. You can hire DVDs, CDs and games from most main libraries, and you can obviously borrow books for free. Your local library will also have a list of free events in your area, and if they have a children’s section then this could keep your children occupied for a few hours for free. Make the most of this free resource and you’ll find you’re spending a lot less in general.

Choose cheap resolutions

Once the New Year has been and gone, many people concentrate on their New Year’s resolutions. For a lot of people, this usually involves getting fit and healthy, quitting smoking and cutting back on other bad habits. If you can, choose and stick to resolutions which don’t cost a lot of money. If you want to exercise more, use a fitness DVD or go walking/jogging rather than join an expensive gym, for example.

Walk everywhere

To save money on fuel and public transport costs, as well as to beat the bad weather, you should try to walk as much as possible in order to get from A to B. This will not only keep you fit and help you to save money, but it will also help to keep the winter blues away; getting out in the natural light is very important.