Christmas 2020 may have been different this time round with coronavirus measures in place, but that doesn’t mean we spent less.
According to a YouGov survey, four in 10 Brits will have increased their debt because of Christmas. And whilst there is no denying that Christmas is an amazing time of year, we all want to start the new year financially fit.
If your bank account has started with January in the red, then don’t worry, these money-saving hacks will help you claw back some cash in 2021.
1. Cancel unused subscriptions
Ever signed up to a free trial for a service and then forgotten about it? Well, the chances are you’re now being charged for it and unless you take action to cancel it, it will continue to auto-renew.
So, take a look at what is coming out of your account and cancel anything you do not need. It’s easy to get caught out on free trial offers, so put a reminder in your diary to cancel them before payment is taken.
Equally, take a look at other monthly outgoings that you don’t need. Are you still paying for a gym that you didn’t use much? Do you have a TV streaming service that you don’t need? They all add up to hundreds of pounds a year, so ditch them and save money.
Download the free Snoop or Emma app to help you identify unused subscriptions on an ongoing basis.
2. Be sale savvy
The first rule to remember here is - ‘ a bargain is only a bargain if it’s something you actually needed in the first place.’
So, as tempting as the January sales may be, only buy something if it is something you need, otherwise you are just spending money, not saving it.
If you do have your eye on something however, you know, like a new toaster, then use the PriceSpy to set up price alerts or the camelcamelcamel for Amazon prices.
3. Using contactless cards
Seriously, we would all consider the purchases we're making SO. MUCH. MORE. if they were made with physical cash rather than a contactless card.
Although we're all using contactless payments more because of coronavirus, it’s important to keep track of your money. Take a look at pre-paid cards like Yolt to help you set budgets on your weekly spends by only uploading what you can afford to spend that week.
4. Take unwanted things back
Once Christmas is over, so too is the awkward 'pretending you like a gift' thing - and whether it's a pair of socks, a book you already own or coat that's two sizes too small: TAKE IT BACK. We're all guilty of saying we'll "do it tomorrow" and eventually being so lazy we miss the returns period, but you'll seriously regret not having that money when you're left with items you didn't want in the first place. Because of coronavirus, many retailers have extended their return date, so check what it is as you may still have time.
5. Or sell them online if you've left it too late
Sell any unwanted stuff online through Depop, eBay, Vinted or similar. Yes it's a lot of effort and yes it will end up consuming all your free time, but not only will it equate to a bit of extra cash in your account, but loads more free space in your home too. To boost your chances of selling, sell winter clothes
6. Look over your shopping habits
You might be a dedicated ASOS shopper or addicted to Marks and Spencer's profiteroles, but it's worth reviewing your shopping habits and seeing if you could get the same stuff, somewhere else. Whether that's food, clothes or general shopping, have a look at what you spend and where, and see if there's easy saving to be done. Remember, supermarket own brands can be rather tasty too!
7. Consider your contracts
(This one is almost definitely as boring as it sounds.)
Make back money you probably haven't thought about for months by looking at your phone, gas, electricity and wifi contracts and seeing where you could get a cheaper deal. You will save hundreds of pounds doing this. If you're paying for 4gb of data but only use 3gb, switch, and so on and so forth until you suddenly have far more money in your bank account and less unused resources on your statements.
Take a look at comparison sites like uswitch or comparethemarket to see what you can save.
8. Do Dry January
You might whine about how January is depressing enough as it is, but say you spend an average of £30 a weekend on a boozy night, cutting out the G&Ts for just 30 days (or the weekends..) would save you around £120.
9. Regift things
There shouldn't be such a taboo about regifting things, providing the person you give the item to will actually like it - and the person you originally received it from will never find out. The same can be said for gifting things from charity shops, raffle sales or discount stores: if the receiver will like it just as much as if it were new, what's the problem?
10. Delete your credit card details from online shopping
Fresh year, fresh start. By doing this and manually having to type your details in every single time you want to buy something online, you will consider whether you actually need to buy it - or whether you're just doing it because it's super easy and you're impulse buying. Get into the habit of leaving things in your basket to considering whether or not you actually need them.
11. Be frugal
If you really want to claw back some money and make some savings in your life, it's worth just asking yourself again and again if you're just buying something for the sake of it. Will it change your life? Do you need it to make you happy? Would you rather have £20 in your pocket or another bottle of Prosecco? OK OK, so maybe sometimes it's the latter, but make the decision to skip the fizz once in a while and your pockets might feel heavier.
One way to tackle it is to give yourself a no spend week each month and see how much you save. And since we’re in lockdown, this might not be as hard as you think… just stay away from online shopping.