The holiday season may be done and dusted, and now it's time for the financial hangover.
If you're like me, the last month has been incredibly expensive owing to gifts, holidays, transport, and constant socialising. Even though January is on its way out, you're feeling the pinch on your pocket, aren't you?
Some people actually were paid in advance before the holiday period began, meaning the hangover lasts even longer because there are more weeks between paydays.
A lot of people will feel more skint than usual throughout the whole of this month. With some little changes, here's how to alleviate some of the financial strain.
Sell, sell, sell
Now is the time of the year to hock all your wares on TradeMe, eBay, and the like. When January turns to February you have people moving into new rental homes, starting new jobs, students moving to new cities for uni, kids going back to school... a lot of change is about.
This is the prime time to offer up the unneeded things in your life – they can make you some much-needed cash. Think clothing, uniforms, and furniture first: they are most desirable at this time of year.
Decide to stop drinking for a bit
"Dry January" is a hard sell in New Zealand because we've been on holiday and the beers and wines have been a part of the relaxation process. Now that's all done, consider deciding to cut your drinking for a while.
If you have no more important social occasions on the cards for the next few weeks, why not sit out the booze altogether? You can go two weeks without a Chardy, right? You'll feel the difference in your head, your body, and most importantly your wallet.
Downgrade your phone plan
I just looked at the minutes I have accumulated on my phone plan and how much I actually use. I have over 500 free ones – I hardly make calls, and they only last a minute or two when I do.
What does your phone plan currently look like? Are you paying for more minutes, texts, and data than you actually need? Look at your bill and see if it's worthwhile downgrading to another plan, or going on a data-only prepaid plan and doing away with included minutes and traditional SMS allowances altogether.
Try having Mondays without spending
Do you feel like every time you leave the house, $40 flies out of your pocket? I certainly do. Public transport, a coffee or two, something for lunch... bam! You feel poor and it's only 1pm on a Monday. If you prepare the day before – very doable for all when it's a Sunday – it's entirely possible to make Mondays the day of your week where you don't spend a cent.
It can become the day you walk or bike to work, go without an espresso hit, BYO salad to work, avoid the supermarket and pharmacy, and refrain from looking at online shops. It's a real pleasure getting home on Monday night knowing that you went the entire first day of the week without swiping your EFTPOS card once.
Don't buy stuff because it's on sale
Retailers continue to hold sales and offer discounts right through the end of this month. Whether it's a gym membership with no joining fee or outdoor furniture that comes at 50 per cent off, don't buy simply because it's cheaper now than it will be in February.
You spent enough money over the holiday period; you have everything you need. The consumption can stop for a while and you can just make do with what you have.
Don't throw anything in the recycling until it's really empty
When you put recyclables in the bin that aren't completely clean and still have some of the original product in them, they are less likely to be recycled at all.
Before you throw anything in that yellow bin of yours – whether it's dishwashing liquid or face moisturiser – get a small spatula or another kitchen tool to scour every last drop from the bottle. Not only will you get more from your purchases, but your contribution to the planet improves too.