January can be a tough month, financially speaking. The onslaught of holiday bills and the belt-tightening required after extra holiday spending can be an unpleasant way to start the new year, especially if you’ve overindulged a little bit. But we have some simple, money-saving suggestions that might help make it a little easier to navigate January—and the rest of the year too!
- Stock up on permanent or “forever” stamps before the price rises. Stamps tend to rise in price early in the year, but the permanent stamps (those without a value visible on the face of the stamp) must be honored regardless of what price they were purchased at. If you send a lot of mail, grab your permanent stamps before the price increases!
- Thrift shop. Lots of people take donations to thrift stores in December to make room for incoming gifts and to take advantage of last-minute tax deductions, so thrift shops are often bursting with fantastic finds in January. It’s a great time to thrift!
- Eat seasonal food. Foods that are in season are usually very well priced (remember how cheap cucumbers were in the summer?), so as often as you can, reach for seasonal produce. If you want or need something that’s off-season and not local, check the freezer section. Frozen produce is almost every bit as nutritionally packed as fresh, and it can be very affordable.
- Manage your heating bill. You may remember your dad telling you to put on a sweater in the winter—and that advice is still sound. Rather than cranking up the heat, wear warmer clothes, especially socks because they’ll make you feel toasty warm! Also, check to make sure your windows and doors are properly sealed and not letting in cold air through cracks, turn down the heat a few clicks if you’re not home, turn down your water heater a few degrees, and open your curtains during the day to let the sun heat your home for free!
- Call your credit card company. It never hurts to ask if they can give you a lower interest rate on your credit card and line of credit. If you have a significant balance, this can save hundreds of dollars on interest charges.
- Make your own meals. Takeout is quick and easy, but costs so much more than cooking homemade meals from scratch. If you don’t have a lot of time or energy in the evenings, consider using a slow cooker so you can have your dinner prepped and cooking before you even leave the house for the day.
- Assess your services. Determine if you’re watching all the television channels you’re paying for and using up all the Internet data you’re being charged for. If not, make changes to your plans. It also doesn’t hurt to call your service providers and see if they can give you a better rate. New promotions and better deals usually do exist, but they don’t voluntarily offer them to existing clients, so it’s wise to check in every six months or so to find out if you can lower your bills.
- Start a fresh budget. Sometimes part of our money anxiety is simply not knowing exactly how much we have and where it’s all going. If you have a household budget, reassess it to make sure it’s sill working for you. If you don’t, set one up. Don’t think of a budget as a restrictive tool that will cramp your lifestyle and prevent you from having fun. In fact, a budget ensures that you’re spending wisely with your financial goals in mind—and that means ensuring there’s room for fun!
Don’t forget, as a Foresters Financial member you have access to Everyday Money, our toll-free financial helpline that connects you to an accredited counselor who can help answer your questions about your personal financial matters such as debt management and budgeting. Visit MyForesters.com to get access to the toll-free helpline for Everyday Money.
417943B CAN/US 01/20