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Living on a debt solution

Budgeting for a 6 week payday … 10 ways to make it through the last few weeks of January

Posted 04 November 2014

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While there may not really be six weeks in January, it can feel like there are after the early December payday. Manage until the end of the month with our smart and easy tips.

 

If you were paid early in December and are finding the last few weeks before January payday a bit tight, you’re not alone. While an early payday can make covering Christmas costs easier in December, it can also mean that you struggle to afford to pay your bills in January, particularly if you’ve got credit cards and loans to repay. Here are our tips on how to manage your spending for the next few weeks until you get paid:

1. Prioritise your spending:

If you’re trying to deal with paying off a variety of debts or expenses, it’s sometimes hard to know which you should focus on first. It’s always important to make sure you keep a roof over your head, so make sure your rent or mortgage is covered first of all. This also includes any loans secured against your home, as you could have your house repossessed if you don’t keep up payments on these. Speak to any other lenders if you have unsecured debts that you think you might struggle to make payments on this month, as they may be able to arrange a solution for you.

For more information about priority and non-priority debts, check out our guide.

2. Hide your credit card:

You might be tempted to pay for things on your credit card this month to get you through to the next payday, but if you’re already trying to juggle several repayments, this can only make the problem worse. Put your credit cards away somewhere so you won’t use them instead of your debit card, and if you already owe money on them, try to concentrate on paying off at least the minimum repayments before paying for anything else with them.

3. Use the freezer

When you’re struggling to make ends meet, one of the hardest things to manage can be making sure that you and your family are fed properly. Even if your groceries budget is tight, you may be able to save money by making a big meal and freezing it in portions so you can defrost food for dinner whenever you need it. We’ve also put together a budget plan on how to feed a family for under £20 a week, which will give you some tips on how to make cheap meals.

4. Sell gifts online

It can be difficult knowing you still have a couple of weeks until you next have money coming in, and if you’re already starting to find it difficult to make ends meet, you might be able to make a bit of extra money by selling any of your unwanted Christmas presents, or other unwanted items you have around the house. ebay is good for selling a variety of items, and there are also specialist online marketplaces depending on what your presents are … for example, you can sell old DVDs on musicMagpie.com, or there are websites out there, such as Genie Recycling, who will give you cash for you old clothes.

5. Repurpose your leftovers

If you usually buy your lunch at work, the cost of this can quickly mount up, meaning it can be hard to stick to a strict budget. If you’ve made a big meal for dinner, save some of the leftovers to take with you to work as a packed lunch, so you don’t have to pay for it at work. Even little savings like this can contribute when you’re struggling to make it through to payday.

6. Stick to a budget

When you know money will be tight, it can be a good idea to make a budget so you can see what outgoings you have and what you’re spending them on. 

7. Cut back on spending

If you already have a regular monthly budget, this might be knocked off balance by the extra weeks between paydays. This means it could be a good idea to cut back on a few 'luxury' items in these last few weeks … i.e. things you don’t need to buy, or that can wait till February, and you can put these savings towards paying off your debts.

8. Pay in cash

Sticking to a strict grocery budget can be hard and it’s sometimes tempting to go over the amount you plan to pay and cover the difference with a debit card. If you struggle with this but want to stick to the amount you planned to spend, get the money out as cash before you go and leave your cards at home.

9. Stay away from high interest options

Even if you feel as though you’re struggling from too many debts and expenses, don’t panic and rely on high interest credit options like payday loans. This will only make the problem worse and the interest rates can mean that you quickly start to owe more than you can afford to repay.

10. Consider asking for help

If you feel like your borrowing has got to the stage where you’re struggling to afford your bills from week to week, there are people out there who can help. You may want to consider speaking to a debt expert at the Debt Advisory Centre, or another independent source, about your situation. They’ll be able to tell you about which debt solutions could be available to you, such as IVAs and DROs … fees may be payable for some… and you could start to get your finances back on track.

by Kyri Levendi

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To find out more about managing your money and getting free debt advice, visit Money Advice Service, an independent service set up to help people manage their money.