If you got paid early before Christmas, it can be a struggle stretching until pay day at the end of January.
The double whammy of credit card bills for Christmas spending, plus any tax bill before 31 January, hits hard.
Borrowing to cover the gap just stores up more trouble for the future, even before you’ve forked out for overdraft charges or credit card interest.
So here are my top 10 tips on where to find money in a hurry, if you’re skint until your salary shows up.
Shop from the contents of your cupboards
First tip is to stop any spending beyond absolute essentials, so start by using what you already have at home, rather than buying more.
I’ve been trying to cut food costs this January by using up the contents of our kitchen cupboards, fridge and freezer. (Updates after weeks one, two and three). Rather than buying new clothes, ransack your wardrobe to see what you already have. Kids bored after the excitement of Christmas? Dig out old toys, games and books. It can be fun revisiting forgotten favourites.
Return for refunds
Is there anything you can return, and get your money back? Think unwanted Christmas presents, duplicates or clothes ordered online that you don’t like or don’t fit. Take stuff back or post it off pronto. Don’t waste money because you didn’t get round to it. We ended up buying a second mobile phone for my daughter’s birthday (long story!) and getting a refund for the extra handset was a big help.
Anything unwanted you could sell? For money in a hurry, eBay can take too long, waiting for an auction to end and faffing around with postage, packing and Paypal fees.
Instead, try using Gumtree or your local Facebook selling pages, where buyers can collect quickly and pay in cash.
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I’ve also used websites like We Buy Books to raise money fast. You scan barcodes on books, CDs and DVDs using your smartphone, get an instant quote and print off a free postage label for your parcel. They pay promptly, the day after receiving your stuff.
Grab a giftcard
Did you get any gift cards for Christmas? Don’t leave them at the back of a drawer, if you could use them towards essential purchases. We were glad to use a Waterstones gift card to buy a card and present for a January birthday.
Raid Christmas cash
When money is tight, it’s always worth doing a sweep of all your pockets, purses, wallets and handbags. Literally look down the back of the sofa, behind the bedside table and inside the car for any parking change.
Also worth checking with your children, in case they’ve hung on to any Christmas present cash. Try to avoid them charging you higher interest than a pay day lender, and do pay back any IOUs promptly after raiding piggy banks!
Chase up money owed
Speaking of money owed – does anyone owe you anything? Have you lent any money? Done any work where you’ve haven’t been paid?
This month, I’ve been chasing invoices. I also spotted that I hadn’t received the £50 promised for opening an account. After a quick call last week, the money hit my bank balance on Monday. Many cheers.
Cancel unwanted subscriptions
Anyone else sign up for a free trial of Amazon Prime, in a flurry of Christmas shopping? My husband hit the button by mistake, but we just don’t shop or stream enough to make it worthwhile. Added bonus when he rang to cancel: Amazon actually refunded the £7.99 subscription taken the day before.
Cancelling unwanted direct debits is usually a longer term money saver, because it cuts living costs in future. But even if it doesn’t raise cash right now, it’s still worth doing. So dig out your bank statements or check online banking, and ditch any direct debits you don’t need any more.
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Check your balance, if you use cashback websites like TopCashback and Quidco when shopping online. Cashback can take a while to be credited, but once it is payble, you can ask for a BACS transfer straight into your bank account.
Alternatively, you could earn up to 25% extra if you take your cashback as vouchers to use in specific shops or websites.
Cash in on loyalty cards
Check your balance on loyalty cards too, if you ever use the likes of Tesco Clubcard, Sainsbury’s Nectar and the Boots Advantage Card. Normally, I recommend getting maximum value for points and vouchers by exchanging them in Double Up or Boost promotions. However, if times are tight those points can be useful for essentials like food, toiletries and school uniform.
Request an energy refund
Have you overpaid your energy bills? If your monthly direct debits for gas and electricity are set too high, it’s possible to build up a big balance. So take your meter readings and ring your supplier to check.
At this time of year, you might want to have a credit, to cover bigger bills during the colder months. But if your balance has hit hundreds of pounds, you can ask for that money back – and ask to pay a lower monthly direct debit in future.
Now – over to you. That’s my checklist on where to find money in a hurry. What would you add? What’s worked for you before? Do share in the comments, I’d love to hear!
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