10 ways to stretch your pay packet this January

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If you’ve finally shaken off your New Year’s Eve hangover only for a glance at your bank balance to induce the coldest of sweats, you’re not alone. Up and down the country weary workers are returning to their desks and facing up to the financial reality of a couple of weeks of festive excess.

That tray of Jagerbombs for the finance team seemed like a good idea at the time didn’t it? And how about that designer top you bought in the pre-Christmas sales despite it being a size too small? Given that most employees received their December pay slightly early the wait for January’s money is set to be more painful than usual.

In a bid to help you through the bleak weeks ahead Quidblog relays a few penny stretching tactics that might just keep you in the black.

Return unwanted presents

We know you smiled through gritted teeth when handed that dodgy scarf and mitten combination by your elderly auntie but if she also happened to offer you the receipt now is the time to use it. Times are too tight to be polite. If you’ve gifts you don’t want or need, be sure to exchange or return them (know your rights first). If you’re not in a position to do either recycle them as gifts for someone else or at least take them to a charity shop.

Pack your lunch

Spend £5 on lunch from a sandwich shop every day for a month and you’ll rack up a bill in the region of £100. Do it daily over the course of the UK’s 252 business working days and the total hits £1260. Now I don’t know about you, but that figure looks pretty damn ridiculous for sandwiches and crisps.  Granted, making a pack lunch everyday isn’t always practical, but even if you only do it twice a week you could save a tenner. If you know you’ll need further fuel throughout the day at least pre-empt your hunger by buying snacks in bulk in when you’re doing your weekly shop.

Detox

At this time of year there are plenty of health benefits to be had from forcing your body through a wholesome January detox. That being said, if cash flow is a problem it’s not a bad idea to cut out junk food, booze and naughty snacks just to save a bit of money. You don’t have to spend the entire 30 days eating vegetables and drinking herbal tea, just find it within yourself to turn down trips to the pub and learn to resist the temptation to buy and eat things you know you shouldn’t! If you know you’ll be too tired to cook at the end of the working day be sure to cook a big batch of something hearty (curries, stews, soups etc.) in advance. Microwaving a healthy homemade meal should stop the urge to order a takeout.

Resist the sales. Unless…

Obviously the massive red signs plastered over shop fronts up and down the country makes it hard to ignore the fact that the January sales are taking place, however, if you need to save cash you can’t go making unnecessary purchases just for the sake of it. If you’re eyeing something you need and recognise the sale discount justifies the purchase then go ahead and part with your cash. Electronics, white goods, bathroom suites, kitchens and holidays are all usually well priced at this time of year. If you just fancy indulging in some retail therapy because you think it will make you feel better ask yourself whether you can live without it first. If you’re determined to be frivolous at least make sure you’re getting the best price by checking for additional voucher codes, comparing deals online and getting yourself some cashback using Quidco!

Stay away from coffee shops

If you find yourself popping into coffee shops several times a day (and not just to buy the lunch you’re now supposed to be packing!) then you’ll know how these naughty trips can eat into your budget. Cutting costs means cutting luxuries and where better to start than ground beans, frothy milk, sprinkled chocolate and amaretto syrup. Do your best to stick to a morning cuppa at home and make use of the office kitchen. For those who can’t live without a fancier caffeine fix, why not explore local independent coffee shops where prices are significantly lower than their behemoth ‘High Street’ competitors.

Don’t sign up to the gym…yet

It’s all well and good telling all and sundry that you’re going to become a gym-bunny but you look a bit silly signing up for an expensive 12-month contract at a flash gym if you only visit only a handful of occasions…usually the day after you’ve binged on pizza. It may sound like a baffling revelation but you don’t need a treadmill to go running, instead start your New Year health kick by jogging (for free) on the streets or in a local park. At least once you’ve realised you hate it after 10 minutes of stomach churning pain you can walk home without having spent a penny. If you find you’re still enjoying the exercise malarkey in February you should at least be a little more confident in parting with your cash at a gym.

Trade services for cash

No…not like that. If you fancy yourself a dab hand with a paint brush, don’t come out in a rash when you unbox IKEA furniture, know how to wallpaper, are in your element cleaning drains or enjoy mowing lawns then you can consider yourself a useful person to know. For every one of you there’s about 15 others who’d rather ignore their growing ‘to do’ list in favour of a Sunday afternoon in the pub. Take advantage of the sloth of others by offering your services in return for cold hard cash. You never know, even Richard Branson, Donald Trump and Alan Sugar had to start somewhere, you might find your life’s calling.

Analyse your bank statements

January is a great month to ‘spring clean’ your financial situation. Pull out your bank statements for the last six months and dissect the transactions identifying direct debit commitments which can be cut. Do you really need those magazine and newspaper subscriptions? If you signed up to a gym but stopped going, perhaps it’s time to cancel the membership? Naturally you can’t avoid paying certain core bills, but you may find that you can improve on current credit card rates, insurance and mobile phone tariffs or that you benefit from a change in energy provider. Any combination of the above could well save you big bucks not just in January but in the months and years ahead.

Postpone social engagements

Surely having caught up with family and friends over the festive period you’ve satiated your appetite for big social occasions. January is the perfect month to tap into the hermitic lifestyle! Not only do you get to stay out of the cold and wet, you can catch up on sleep, read books, watch films and spend quality time procrastinating about your plans for the year ahead. What with the pack lunch making, bank statement checking, park jogging sessions and trips to charity shops there’s a good chance you won’t have time for nights out anyway! Moreover, when February comes around you’ll be so in demand, you’ll feel like a minor celebrity when you finally make an appearance in the pub.

Withdraw your Quidco earnings

Did you know that the average Quidco gets paid over £230 cashback during the course of a year? That means, if you’ve managed to resist dipping into your juicy funds, there’s a perfect boost just waiting to be injected into your January bank balance. Go on treat yourself…