I'm glad I'm not feeling the January blues
With Christmas well and truly over, it's around this time of year that my diet often turns into beans on toast as I count down the days until payday. However, one of my new year's resolutions was to get my finances in order for 2009, and you'll be pleased to hear I've not resorted to canned dinners just yet - although if you work for Heinz you may not...
Before Big Ben struck 12 on new year's eve I was already set. Through going through my bank statements from October and November I knew exactly how much I needed to put aside each month for my rent, council tax, gas, electricity, water, mobile, insurance and train travel. As soon as I received December's pay I transferred it instantly into a separate bank account (which was easy to set up and earmarked 'not to be touched').
That left me free to enjoy Christmas without the worry. On Boxing day (and still full of turkey) I sat down and went through all of my Christmas present receipts, the meals and nights out, and totalled up how much I had spent on my credit card. As I've still got 6 months left on 0% on purchases, I plan to make inroads into the balance and pay it off before the period ends, easy.
So, with my debts under control and safe in the knowledge that I could meet this month's bills, I started the Moneywise Money Diary. Two weeks in and I can see exactly where my money is going - and that's going to help me make even more cutbacks for next month. After all, the odd £10 and £20 withdrawal here and there appearing on your statement makes it hard to figure out what you're actually spending physical cash on. Things like a haircut, a coffee or a bar of chocolate.
I now know I spend far too much on train travel (thanks to inflation-busting price hikes by National Express), I've spent far too much on lunch at our local Pret and I know that the can machine in the Moneywise kitchen is no longer going to be taking my 50ps! Still, I'm sticking to the diary to see what else takes my hard-earned each day, and will be able to budget for that for February and kickstart my savings habit. But then again that's another blog - in all honesty I'm just glad that there's only a week left till payday and there's not a can opener in sight...yet.
Liam Tarry is the Staff Writer at Moneywise