Is it still January? 10 survival tips to make it to pay day

Conor Pope on the fine art of living on virtually nothing this week

What’s that? A one-euro coin? Dinner time!

What’s that? A one-euro coin? Dinner time!

 

Oh for heaven’s sake, is it still January? The financial crisis is getting serious now and we’re not talking about any class of global meltdown or weakening consumer sentiment prompted by all the talk of a hard Brexit and that fella throwing strops in the White House.

We’re talking about a much more personal sort of financial crisis. People who get paid monthly probably last saw cash hit their current account over four weeks ago and will probably have to wait until Friday before their cash reserves are replenished.

And if an almost six-week gap between paydays, isn’t hard enough to endure at the best of times now is, in fact, the worst of times, coinciding as it does with the most wonderfully spendy time of the year.

Remember Christmas? Seems like a long time ago now, right? So, how are you going to make it through the week?

1. Cut out all incidentals. That means no takeaway coffees, no bars of chocolate, no chewing gum, no mid-week bottles of wine. The key to cutting out incidental spending is avoiding shops at all costs. If you find yourself weakening as the week drags on, you just need to ask yourself if you really need whatever it is you are tempted to buy. If you can’t answer a truthful yes, then let it go.

2. Set yourself a challenge to spend nothing today. Absolutely nothing. Nada. Then see if you can make it through tomorrow without spending a bean either. Spending money can be a habit, but if you put your mind to it, you can break that habit and if you make spending nothing a challenge, it won’t be as miserable as it otherwise might be. It’s still going to miserable mind.

3. To get to your spend-free Nirvana you must take your credit cards out of your wallet and leave them at home. If you have them with you this week, you might be tempted to lean on them. And leave your debit card at home too. It’s much easier to spend €100 on plastic than in cash: you think about it more when you’re handing over notes. And the whole contactless business means that if you have a debit card you will be able to spend money you don’t actually have this week. But then you will be hit with all sorts of unauthorised overdraft charges which will make February worse.

4. If you are lucky enough to have a few bob in your account take out €20 to have as an emergency fund.

5. Empty your freezer and cupboards. You probably have a whole week’s worth of food in there. Use whatever you find to make what we have decided to call “eclectic soups and stews”. And yes, by eclectic we mean ridiculous combinations that you would normally turn your nose up at. But need must. Anyone for a banana pasta bake? If you have a microwave at work turn Freezer Lunch into a game. Pick a random hunk of frozenness and bring it to work in its solid state. Then defrost it and see what it is. It might be some amazing chorizo stew that you cooked last May. Or it might be tomato soup. Or chilli. It might also be gravy. Yes, you might end up having gravy for lunch. But sure what harm? (See Rachel Collins’s seven cheap, tasty meal suggestions)

6. Check down the back of the couch, in the holdery bit near the gear stick in your car, that change jar or, ahem, charity box that you put away a few years ago. There are still hundreds of millions of coppers worth tens of millions of euro resting in people’s homes. People like you. Cash them in. You might be able to raise a tenner that way.

7. Call in for a cuppa. Some people are, well, like Mrs Doyle. They just love to make you a cup of tea and maybe a bit of lunch if it’s that time of the day. Call around to their house and fill your pockets. If you want to be super mean, call in just before dinner. Sure what are they going to do but offer you a plate? Although you may end up eating their banana pasta bake, which would kind of serve you right.

8. Go to bed early. You’ll be less hungry and will have less opportunity to go out and spend that money you don’t have. In fact, get into those jammies the minute you come through the door.

9. Leave the heat off and, if you have an open fire, light it. Have a look in the back garden where you will surely find random pieces of wood to burn.

10. Walk and cycle as much as you can. Every time you hop in the car it costs you money, according to the latest AA Fuel Price Index. The last thing you want is the yellow light coming on on Wednesday evening when the bank account is empty. There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing, so drag that Raleigh 12-speed out of the shed.