Money Wellness
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calendar icon16 Jan 2024

84% of people expect toughest January yet – tips to get you through a financial rough patch

Most people are expecting money to be tighter this January than in previous years, a new survey shows.

The poll by Nationwide reveals 84% are anticipating their toughest start to a year yet.

Over half (51%) put their heightened money worries down to overspending at Christmas, just under half (43%) say soaring energy costs are factor and nearly four in ten (37%) point to the rising cost of living.

As a result of these financial pressures, more people are considering getting expert advice. Some 46% of people are more likely to seek help with money matters this year than in previous years. This rises to 63% in Greater London.

Tips to see you through a financial rough patch

If you’ve got a tough week or two ahead while you wait for January’s pay packet, we’ve got some tips that might help ease the pressure. These aren’t long-term strategies though, so if getting paid won’t solve your money worries, make sure you get free debt help too.

Cut costs

  • Try and reduce your food bill by using up all the stuff you have in your cupboards and freezer.
  • If you’re really struggling, you may be able to get a food bank referral from a professional like your GP, health visitor, social worker or Citizens Advice. Your local foodbank will be able to tell you who they work with in your area.
  • Cancel that costly gym membership and find ways to exercise for free. Even better incorporate exercise into your daily routine, e.g. walk or cycle to work, so it becomes a habit rather than something you have to cajole yourself into doing.

Boost your income

  • An estimated £19bn of income-related benefits and social tariffs go unclaimed every year in the UK. Make sure you’re not missing out by using our free benefits calculator to check what you’re entitled to.
  • Sell unwanted clothes and household items on online sites such as Vinted or eBay. There’s been a lot of misreporting over the past few weeks about people having to pay tax on money they make this way. If you’re selling personal items you no longer need, you don’t need to pay tax on the money you make. It’s only if you’re specifically buying or making items to sell that you need to report your earnings.

Prioritise your debts

  • If it’s got to the point where you really can’t cover all of your debts, make sure you pay the right ones first. The debts you need to prioritise are things like rent/mortgage, council tax, energy bills – these are the debts that have the most serious consequences if you fall behind with them.
  • Debts like credit cards and unsecured loans should only be paid once these more important debts are taken care of. Let non-priority lenders know if you’re struggling to pay this month and offer to make a token payment of £1. Find out more about priority and non-priority debts.

Get help rather than borrowing more

  • If you’ve got to the point where you’re not going to be able to sort out our finances by tightening your belt for a few weeks, rather than being tempted to try and manage your debts by taking out another credit card or a consolidation loan, it’s a much better idea to talk to an expert.
  • Get in touch with us for impartial debt advice, either online or over the phone. We’ll go through your budget and see what you can afford to pay towards your debts each month. Maybe you just need a bit of help with budgeting. Or maybe you’d benefit from a debt solution.
  • Debt solutions can reduce the amount you pay towards your debt each month and even write off some of what you owe. Of course, you’ll need to weigh this up against the fact your credit rating’s likely to take a hit. But we’ll give you all the info you need on your various options. All of our advice is free and some debt solutions are also free. For others, there’s a fee. We’ll give you time to digest the info we’ve provided, talk it over with friends or family and ask us any questions you might have. If we’ve suggested a debt solution as a suitable option and you decide you’d like to go ahead, we can help get it set up for you.
Avatar of Rebecca Routledge

Rebecca Routledge

A qualified journalist for over 15 years with a background in financial services. Rebecca is Money Wellness’s consumer champion, helping you improve your financial wellbeing by providing information on everything from income maximisation to budgeting and saving tips.

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