Crack down on debt, get your fitness back on track, sell unwanted Xmas presents — if you feel like your new year to-do list is an uphill struggle, you’re not alone.
Cupboards full of junk and expanding waistlines are common complaints leading to the January blues. But it doesn’t need to be this way, so read on for tips on getting your finances and mental and physical health back on track before February rolls around.
Sort out your Christmas debt
This is a biggie, but one many of us can relate to — in fact, the Money Advice Trust says around a third of Brits borrow money to cover the cost of Christmas.
One of the best ways to pay off debts is to use the snowballing method. This involves tackling the biggest debts first, so you stop high-interest repayments as soon as possible. We’ve written an easy-to-follow guide with more details.
Then, start making a budget so you don’t get into debt again. It may sound boring, but our article on budgeting has actionable tips to keep your spending in check. And you can still leave enough for fun spending.
Jumpstart your debt-busting strategy by spending less money in January — even just giving up alcohol for the month or bringing your own lunch to work will make a difference.
Sell unwanted Christmas presents
Got a closet full of ill-fitting jumpers and useless gadgets after Xmas? Make a dent in your debt by selling them. Sites like eBay are excellent for this, even for niche products.
Alternatively, re-wrap and re-gift them for upcoming birthdays (just make sure you don’t give them back to the person who gave them to you!)
There’s nothing wrong with making cash or finding a good home for these unwanted gifts — otherwise, they’d just end up on a shelf forever. If you don’t like the thought of selling or re-gifting them, do some good and donate them to a charity shop.
For more tips, we’ve got you covered in our full guide.
Then next year, set up a Secret Santa deal with your family, so everyone gets something nice but you don’t overdo it.
Get your fitness back on track
Extra eating and drinking over Christmas, plus doing less exercise in cold weather, means many people are less fit in January.
It’s common to see ads for gym memberships when the new year arrives, so shop around for the best deals. Just stay realistic: Read more on how not to get constricted by your gym contract.
Even better, save money by exercising at home. With even the most basic equipment (exercise ball, skipping rope, and dumbbells), you can start losing weight and building muscle. YouTube is full of excellent videos, and you’ll spend way less than the cost of annual gym membership.
Make plans and beat the January blues
If tackling debt and getting back in shape fills you with dread, plan something nice and make January a happy month for once!
If you’ve managed to avoid debt, the start of the year is an excellent time to book a holiday. Places like Southern Europe offer superb rates on flights and accommodation because it’s the height of off season. Plus, it’s much warmer than the UK winter!
But you needn’t spend much money to feel better in January. Plan a cosy gathering with friends — maybe a potluck, where everyone cooks a healthy dish and you all have a bit of each. This is a great alternative to piling on pounds and spending loads of money at pubs and restaurants.
Also, make the most of free local attractions. Museums and galleries are often far less busy in the winter months, and taking in a bit of culture is a great mood booster.
Make the most of downtime
While everyone and their wallets are recovering from Christmas, January tends to be a slow time for socialising. If you’ve exhausted your plans with friends and finished having a clear out, start getting ahead of other tasks.
This could include working through those home repairs you’ve been putting off. Walk around the house and make a checklist of anything that needs maintaining or replacing. Then, once you’ve got your debts in order, set aside a little money for it.
You could also make a headstart on spring cleaning. Get friends and family to help you pull out sofas, beds, and even big appliances if possible, then have a good clean round. It’s amazing how much mess can accumulate after all those festive parties!
Cleaning is a surprisingly good way to de-stress, especially once you sit back and admire your sparkling floors and surfaces.
Along with clearing your debt, getting fit, and looking forward to more positive months ahead, cleaning the house is a great way to start the new year right.