January can traditionally be a tough month for managing finances, but the knock-on effect of the coronavirus pandemic means that it may be even more difficult for some people to make their final pay of the year last to the end of January.
In our recent Boxing Day article, we looked at increases to consumer spending during the holiday season. With many of us spending more, and facing increased pressures to meet certain expectations when gift-giving and socialising, it’s no wonder than many find themselves in positions of financial detriment come the new year.
With the opportunity for bargains online, including time-sensitive sales, comes the chance for scammers and less-than-reputable retailers to mislead consumers into making purchases that are not necessarily fit-for-purpose.
Many online marketplaces don’t verify the products for sale. If you can, it’s a good idea to check anything you want to buy in person before handing over your cash. Especially before you purchase big-ticket items such as cars or white goods.
As always with online sales, and as a general rule, if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Additionally, you could be criminally liable if you buy or sell stolen goods.
By law, when you’re dealing with a business as a consumer, you need to know – or be able to find out – who you’re dealing with. A retailer or trader’s identity and address must be displayed at their place of business, on key business documents and on their website. This information must also be made available to you before a contract is made and whenever you request it.
As well as avoiding being caught out by scammers and dubious retailers, it’s important to consider affordability and avoid spending beyond our means. So, how can we avoid beginning 2022 on the financial back foot?
Avoiding getting into debt moving forward into 2022
Tip 1- Avoid the temptation to start digging into December’s pay to fund last-minute Christmas shopping and January Sale Purchases.
If you receive your December pay before Christmas, it can be tempting to spend it to pay for last-minute festive gifts and January Sales puchases, leaving you with even less money to get you through January.
Think about the longer-term and avoid overspending for Christmas.
Tip 2 – Return any unwanted gifts that you can
If you received an unwanted gift over Christmas, try getting a refund if you can. This may need to be actioned via the person who originally bought the item.
If a refund is not possible, see if the store will offer a credit note that you can save for later or use on something that will come in handy right now.
Tip 3 – Set a budget
Figure out what money you have left over after paying your regular bills and buying necessities, such as food shopping and fuel for your home and car. From here, you can see what you’re left with and then divide the remainder between the days or weeks you have before your January payday.
Tip 4 – Keep your budget separate
Once you’ve set your budget, keep the essentials somewhere physically different, such as in a separate account. It may look like a stark amount that is left, but it will make you more conscious about what you can spend your money on.
Tip 5 – Batch-cook meals and try out new recipes
If you have a variety of items in your cupboards and aren’t sure what to make, there are many apps and websites where you can input the ingredients and recipe suggestions will be offered. Cooking at home can save us money.
Tip 6 – Shop around for discounts and deals
Before making any purchases, in-store or online, carry out a quick online search to see if there are any discounts or deals you can apply to your purchases.
These may include discounts off the total spend, free delivery, or even special offers that help your money go further.
Tip 7 – Recreate ‘going out’ experiences more cost-effectively at home
Whether it’s creating a nice meal at home instead of going to a restaurant, or having a movie night at home complete with popcorn instead of a trip to the cinema, you can save money and have an entertaining night in.
The new social distancing measures now in effect across Scotland and the rest of the UK mean that for many people, nights out are being put on hold to help the nation stop the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.
Shopping in person
The pandemic is not over, and in fact, the new Omicron variant of Covid-19 is spreading at an alarming rate. According to government guidelines, you can make shopping experiences safer by:
- Reducing the number of times, you go shopping
- Going to the shops at quieter times
- Putting on your face covering before touching baskets or trolleys
- Cleaning the handles of your trolley or basket before you use them
- Using hand sanitiser when you arrive and leave
- Avoiding touching doors with your hands
- Using contactless payment if you can
moneyadvice.scot provide free information and support on a wide range of money and debt-related issues and are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
Specialist advisers can work with you to assess your current situation, look at your income and outgoings, and consider what to do next.
For more information, visit moneyadvice.scot, or call us on 0808 800 9060 (Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm).