Make your money stretch until payday
When TS Elliot described April as the “cruellest month” in his epic poem The Wasteland he clearly hadn’t just wasted the guts of a grand on a Christmas blowout that seemed like a great idea at the time. Nor was he facing a four-week wait for a pay cheque that he knew was going to be smaller than his last one thanks to more cuts imposed by a Government trying to manage its way out of the worst recession in several generations.
A spending survey published before Christmas suggested that a majority of people would spend more than they had, while 70 per cent said it would take more than a month to recover from festive overspending. What is needed then is a spending bootcamp. A month-long financial operation transformation to get you back on your feet before the first day of Spring.
ON THE WAGON
Decide that once the New Year’s Eve madness is done, you’re going to be done with alcohol until February 1st. New Year’s resolutions are, for most of us, a disaster because they are open-ended and we get bored after a few weeks. This way your resolve only has to last 31 days. The average Irish adult drinks the equivalent of eight pints of beer a week. That’s around €35 if you do all your drinking in a pub. Cut it out for the month and save yourself as much as €140.
Drink is not the only thing that should go in January – knock your caffeine habit on the head too. Remember it is only a month. There are 22 working days in January. If you drink just one cup of takeaway coffee, at €2.25, on each of those days it is going to cost you €49.50.
THE BIG SWITCH
If you’ve run up any kind of balance on your credit card, switch to a zero-interest option. Several credit card companies offer 0 per cent interest on balance transfers for the first 10 months while others have 0 interest options for six months. If you moved an outstanding balance of €20,000 from a card with an APR of 16.5 per cent to a zero interest option, you’d save €160 in interest payments in the first six months. That’s €20 in the first month.
The biggest weekly expense for most people is food. You have to eat but, you can make savings. Plan what you are going to eat for the next seven days. Stick to that plan. As part of your money bootcamp, resolve to eat less meat – if you were to go vegetarian for just three days a week you could easily knock €10 off your weekly food spend. That’s €40 in January.
BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS
Plan to eat porridge. Enough Flahavans Progress Oatlets to keep a whole family going for seven days costs just €2.29 in your local Tesco. A week’s supply of milk for that porridge will cost €4.90 which takes the total cost of breakfast for a family of four to €7.19. A 1kg box of Kellogg’s Cornflakes meanwhile costs nearly a fiver. By going the porridge route you’ll shave another €20 off your monthly bill.