Get Your Finances Back in Check if You’ve Overspent This Christmas

Get Your Finances Back in Check if You’ve Overspent This Christmas

There are no two ways about it – Christmas can be an expensive time of year. Many people often overspend at Christmas time, splashing out on presents, food, nights out and more, with the thought that they will delay the problem until January and sort it out then. Indeed, according to short term loan website Growing Power – searches for short term and emergency funding peak in January and February, as people struggle to meet their critical bills having dipped into their emergency funds.

As I write this, January is a mere two days away, and so the time to reclaim control of your money is here. Below we list 5 things you can do to restore order in your financial World if you have overspent this yuletide.

Assess the problem

This is to time to bury your head in the sand – you need to be open and honest with yourself about the amount you have spent and what the damage is. Download your bank statements and credit card bills and work out how much you have spent and how much debt you have accumulated. Use this to generate a figure that you need to hit to get yourself back on track financially.

Return anything you don’t want or need

If you are anything like me, then chances are you will have bought presents that you didn’t end up giving. And despite the sender’s good intentions, you will also have received some presents that you aren’t particularly keen on. If you have receipts for any of these items, then you should look to return them as soon as possible and see if you can get a refund.

Anything that you can’t return, you could look to sell on eBay or Facebook marketplace (or any other local buy/sell forum).

Commit to a spending hiatus

January is a great time for new beginnings. Commit to yourself that you will curb your spending this month. For 31 days, promise yourself that you will stay out of any shops that you know are a spending weakness for you, try and avoid eating and drinking out (even though there are often lots of 2 for 1 deals in many restaurants in Jan), make your own packed lunches for work, take your own coffee in the morning and save those few pounds you would normally spend at Starbucks. Any way you can cut your spending this month – do it!

While we are on the topic of new beginnings and fresh starts, you should also evaluate your outgoings and be honest about the value you get from some of your subscriptions. Could you cancel some of these and pocket the savings? Many subscriptions such as Netflix, allow you to use the subscription on multiple devices – could you buddy up with a friend to share the cost of a subscription and therefore halve the cost for both of you?

Review your budgeting

If you have a budget planner, now is a good time to update it. Work out exactly how much you need to reduce your outgoings by in order to recoup the debt accrued over Christmas time as quickly as is realistically possible.

If you don’t have a budget, then you really should have one. Use a spreadsheet (if you don’t have Microsoft Excel, then Google Sheets is a free alternative) or even just old fashioned pen and paper, and write down all of your expenses and incomings to see if you are on track to have some money to set aside each month, or if you are on a perpetual path to adding to your debt every month. Only by knowing the truth about our problems, can we take action to solve them.

Earn some extra money

If, even after all these cost-cutting measures, you are still on course to add to your debt each month, then you need to look at a way you can add extra income.

Is requesting a raise a realistic prospect? If not, could you move jobs and earn a little more with a different employer? Are there any side-hustles or part-time jobs you could take on? Selling items on eBay, babysitting, walking dogs, delivering packages or pizzas, waiting tables – any of these could be a good short-term solution to putting a few more pounds in your pocket and get you on track to getting back in the black. You don’t need to work tons of hours at these either. Just ten hours per week at minimum wage would provide an additional ~£350 per month (before tax and national insurance).

Following these tips could help you recoup that Xmas debt and put you on track for a prosperous and successful 2020. Happy New Year!

Five Ways You Can Get Something for Nothing

Five Ways You Can Get Something for Nothing

“There is no such thing as a free lunch”, or so the saying goes. But sometimes, you can genuinely get things for free. Here we have compiled a list of 5 opportunities you can take advantage of to get something for nothing.

Browse Facebook Marketplace

Very often, sellers on Facebook will list an item for free. Zip. Zilch. They just want it gone. I have done it myself when we bought a new TV. The old TV was in perfect working order, but it had some scratches and scuffs on the stand and was around ten years old so wasn’t particularly desirable. I could maybe have got £50 for it but I just wanted to cut all the hassle out and was feeling generous so I decided to just list it for free on Facebook marketplace.

A tip if you are trying to get an item for free – you need to be as flexible as possible. The donor wants zero hassle, so you need to be willing to pick the item up as soon as possible and be as amenable as possible to their demands. In the example above, I had people messaging me asking if I could drive the TV to them, if I could hold it for a week or if I could send them more photos. The answer to all of the above was no. It’s free! Take it or leave it.

Sample Products

Often, manufacturers will want to get their products out into the hands of potential customers to try it out. That’s why there are regularly testing stands in Supermarkets these days. Sites such as exist to help you sign up to receive samples straight to your door, so you often don’t even need to leave the house!

Also, not many people are aware of Amazon samples. Anyone with an active amazon account can sign up to request to receive free samples through the post, you just need to register for these in your account preferences – see here for more details about how this works.

Loyalty Programmes

Make sure you are signed up for each and every loyalty programme available at the places you shop. Points can add up quickly. For instance, we do our weekly shop at Sainsbury’s spending on average £100 per week. By signing up for the Nectar loyalty scheme (and also applying for a Sainsbury’s credit card which rewards additional nectar points for purchases) we have been able to accumulate savings worth £190 in a year. Bear in mind that this is on purchases we would have made anyway, so it is literally free money.

If you buy a coffee a couple of times per week on your way to work, scan your loyalty card. You were going to buy that coffee anyway. If you regularly need to buy nappies at boots, pick up their advantage card and scan it. You get the gist.

Take advantage of your local library

The modern library is an amazing place. Gone are the days where libraries were stuffy, cold buildings where you could borrow a dog-eared book on how to learn origami in just one year. Nowadays you can rent DVDs, video games, browse the internet and of course, borrow books, and it is all free. In a sense, you are paying for the library’s services as they are funded by your council tax – so you might as well get your money’s worth and make sure to use the services available.

Free trials

The vast majority of subscription-based services offer a free trial, to allow the user to give the service the once over and check that they like it before committing to spending cold hard cash each month on the service.

For example, at the time of writing, Netflix offers 30 days free. The only catch (if it can even be called that) is that you need to remember to cancel the trial before the 30 days is up to avoid being charged, but as long as you can remain vigilant on that front then there should be no problems. You can take advantage of as many different services as you like for 30 days. And, if you can spare 10 minutes admin time each month you could register a new email address each month and sign up afresh. I can’t guarantee this will work for all services as some may limit the number of subscriptions based on your credit/debit card number if this needs to be provided at the time of sign up, but it may be worth a try.

A little bonus tip here – if you use a compatible email service such as Gmail, you could utilise the plus address system. That is, you can just add a plus symbol after your regular email address and any letters or numbers, to generate infinite variations on your email address that will just land in your regular inbox. E.g. if your email address is, then using any of the following would also send emails into your inbox –,,

Read more about this here –