The third Monday of the new year – 15 January in 2024 - is often claimed to be the most depressing day of the year, dubbed “Blue Monday”.
The day has been saddled with lots of negative connotations, from long, dark, cold days to abandoned new year resolutions. Crucially, many will be feeling the pinch following the festive period - especially after being paid early before Christmas.
Myron Jobson, Senior Personal Finance Analyst, interactive investor, says: “The Blue Monday formula has no scientific basis. Your financial position and mental health aren’t determined by a specific date in the year. Relying on such concepts to make financial decisions can lead to unnecessary anxiety and impulse actions. It is crucial to base your financial planning on thorough analysis of your own circumstances and sound personal finance principals, like saving and investing, rather than arbitrary notions.”
While the validity of Blue Monday is questionable, good money management is crucial throughout the year, whatever the weather.
With this in mind, Myron outlines tips to give your finances a boost.
“The first step is to establish a budget that reflects your income and expenses. Track every coin that flows in and out and identify areas where you can reduce spending without compromising your needs. Prioritise essentials and limit discretionary expenses.”
Go through your bills to see if you can cut costs
“It is worth going through your bank statements - three months’ worth would suffice – and review all your bills including utilities, insurance and subscriptions, to identify any unnecessary charges or overages.
“It might also be worth contacting your service providers to negotiate better deals or inquire about available discounts. Many providers may be willing to adjust rates to retain customers.”
Seek help on bills and debt if needed
“If you think you’ll struggle to pay a bill, contact the company providing you with the service as soon as possible. They might agree to a temporary solution or set up a payment plan.
“If you are struggling with debt, it is worth consulting a debt advice charity such as StepChange or Turn2Us and they will go through all your options.”
Set spending limits
“Establish daily or weekly spending limits to control your expenses. This helps prevent impulsive purchases and encourages mindful spending.”
Use discounts and compare prices
“Take advantage of discounts and promotions. Check for coupons, loyalty programmes, or special offers when making purchases. Before making a purchase, compare prices from different retailers. Online tools and apps can help you find the best deals.”
“Assess your subscriptions and cancel any that you don't use or need. This includes streaming services, magazines, or monthly box subscriptions.”
Cook at home
“Save money by preparing meals at home instead of dining out. Buying groceries in bulk and planning your meals can be cost-effective.”
“Consider do-it-yourself projects instead of paying for services. This could include home repairs, crafting, or even creating personalised gifts.”
Consider second-hand shopping
“It could be worth exploring charity and thrift stores and/or online platforms for second-hand items. You might find great deals on clothing, furniture, or electronics.”
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