After the craziness of December, January should be a breath of fresh air – in theory. The quiet and calm after the Christmas rush, and a new year to start afresh. But I speak with a lot of people who find January incredibly hard.
I call it the January Hangover…
It’s the financial hangover of the Christmas period, and the longest month without pay for lots of people.
It’s the Mental Health hangover of the craziness of Christmas and the previous year, amplified x 1000 this year after the sh*t that Covid has thrown at us.
And it’s the home hangover – we spend more time in our homes over Christmas than almost any other point in the year. It sends streams of people to Right Move every boxing day (the busiest day of the year for house searches) when they realise it’s time to move. But for many of us, it means getting the place organised and clearing the clutter after the excess of stuff that came in from Christmas.
So, I wanted to take a look at surviving the January Hangover this month.
Perhaps you overindulged at Christmas time, are generally struggling to make ends meet, or you just want to start this year off with a clean slate money-wise.
If you are ready and able to get your finances in order, see my blog on tackling your finances in just half an hour a day for an easy way to get started.
Often referred to as tight, I like to think of myself as money smart! Perhaps continually helping people who have found themselves in really uncomfortable money situations (very often through no fault of their own I must add), has something to do with that. But when it comes to finances, I am ORGANISED.
Here’s some things I’ve found really helpful for managing my finances:
1. PLAN PLAN PLAN! A budget is a bible for good money health. You always know where you’re at, and what you have to work with. So your first step is to create a budget planner.
There are loads out there online and some great planner books available, but my new favourite toy is the Emma-App. It makes money management SO easy, tracks all your accounts in one place, finds things you can cut out (like subscriptions you forgot you had!) and generally makes my life easier.
I once got a friend over with the lure of a bottle of wine and we went through our finances together. It made it feel much less of a chore, mucking about with your bestie makes it a much more light-hearted event! And because we agreed to do it for each other, we couldn’t back out and not bother. It really helped us both to start the year on a great footing
2. Think ahead. Is there anything you can set up now that will help you later in the year?
A. If you are on regular medication requiring you to fill just one prescription a month, you will save money with a pre-paid subscription. Always surprises me that this isn’t used more!
And it’s not one of those things where you need money to save money – you can spread that discounted price across 10 months direct debit. So you’re making the ‘bulk saving, without the bulk outlay. No brainer, right! You can see the table below for details of the savings, and visit the website to set it up
|Number of prescribed medicines
you need each month
|Saving with a 12 month PPC
|Saving with a 3 month PPC
|More than £115 a year
|More than £25 in 3 months
|More than £225 a year
|More than £50 in 3 months
|More than £340 a year
|More than £75 in 3 months
B. How about a savings goal?
Saving £5 a week will give you £260 to play with next Christmas.
If you don’t have that in your budget now, is there anything you can swap to save £ per week? A few coffees or a bottle of wine? Switching to some own-brands in your shopping? If you’re a smoker, cutting out just 1 cigarette per pay will put you 75% of the way there for that £5 saving each week according to this NHS calculater.
Serious Money Struggles & Repossession
Dealing with serious money struggles is scary.
I’ve seen time and time again with people that I help, the most common response people have to money struggles is to bury their head in the sand. And I spend so much of my time trying to spread the word that this is the worst possible approach!
If you’ve been approached by your landlord, mortgage or bill providers, or any other businesses about arrears or money owed, please believe me when I tell you…they don’t want to follow through on any legal action.
It is time-consuming and more importantly in their eyes – expensive.
They WANT to talk to you
They WANT to know what your situation is
They WANT to help you
And if your situation does end up in court, in my experience, 95% of judges will side with a human. The key is to show up, and show willing to get things back on track.
So PLEASE, if you are having serious money troubles, if you do only one thing in January with regards to your finances, it would be to pick up the phone and talk to the people owed about your situation.
I wrote a Blog about repossession last year that I hope will be useful if you are currently dealing with this situation.
Mental Health & Wellbeing
Upping your wellbeing
We’re really lucky to live in a time where Mental Health is finally becoming less taboo and more understood and acknowledged by society as a whole. After the last few years with Covid too, more and more people are willing to open up about struggling with their mental health.
Just as we learn to read, or play an instrument, we can teach our brain to deal better with life’s stress, too, with a little practice. Here are some tips for improving on your Mental Health over time:
1. Coldwater swimming has been proven to assist your mind’s ability to deal with stress.
The science behind this is that we put our bodies under stress by entering ‘cold water’ (anything under 15 degrees is considered cold, but you’ll find temperatures around 4 or 5 in the Southend Seas in January!), it learns to react to it in the way you teach it. By entering cold water and breathing through the pain (and it is literally painful!), you are teaching your body to breath and relax during stressful situations – subconsciously, Over time, your response to everyday stress should ease.
It’s not without it’s risks though, and you do need to work up (or down!) to the cold temperatures to avoid serious dangers like hypothermia. Start by doing a minute each day with your shower on cold! And make sure you join one of the local swim meets when you’re ready to brave the sea – don’t go alone.
‘Gone for a swim‘ is a local instructor who runs ‘intro to cold water swimming’ group classes
The Bluetits of Leigh on Sea meet for group swims, and
The Open water swimming coach often runs group educational and swim classes.
2. Establish a Morning Routine
Setting a simple morning routine which allows time for everything you need to do, plus some time to practice gratitude or meditate is a really fantastic way to set you up for the day.
3. Yoga & Yoga Breathing
Practised for 1000s of years, Yoga has been proven time and time again in scientific studies to have genuine effects on your nervous system and general wellbeing. You can learn the basics of Ujjayi breath (yoga breath) here, or ‘Box breathing’ here, and if you are interested in taking up yoga, start with this 30-day introduction to yoga. You’ll be amazed at the benefits 30 minutes a day can have on your strength and flexibility, as well as your wellbeing! ????
All of these things can help to deal with the overwhelm that many of us feel at the start of a new year.
Metal Health Problems
Sadly, at the other end of the scale to general wellness, I often speak to people in the very pits of depression who have lost so much more than any of us could ever imagine. Frankly, it’s just not fair what some people have to go through.
If you happen upon this and are in a serious situation mental-health-wise, please find someone to speak to – today. Talking things through, getting things off your chest, even just realising you’re not alone – you cannot overrate these things in my experience. There are some links below that might help:
Please Call the Samartians on 116 123 for free if you are considering suicide
The more things you own, the more things own you.
You might not realise it but having clutter in your home directly impacts your mental health. Even if you’re not conscious of it, more things = more things to clean/store/maintain and a greater strain on our brains. So to help keep our brains tip-top, join me in a January declutter!
Decluttering your home is a must if you’re selling up, but also a great way to start your year if you’re staying put.
For me, the first place to start was the Marie Kondo method:
“The KonMari Method™ encourages tidying by category – not by location – beginning with clothes, then moving on to books, papers, miscellaneous items, and, finally, sentimental items. Keep only those things that speak to the heart, and discard items that no longer spark joy.
Her Netflix show was pretty binge-worthy, but watching all of those homes declutter before your eyes is nothing on actually doing it in your own home! Give it a try!
And while you’re getting organised, you’ve got to follow these on instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/thehomeedit/ (they have their own program too, but it’s a little bit TOO much American preppiness for me ????)
That’s my tips for a fresh start this January! Happy 2022
*I don’t earn any commission from any suggestions in this post, these are my own personal recommendations.
I’m Joanne. I’ve lived and breathed property for longer than I care to remember! This blog is to provide advice and support with problems surrounding property, and life in general.
Previously on the blog…
A young family had saved and saved in order to buy their own home. The case at a glance: A young couple had maxed themselves out on their mortgage When the husband lost his job, they used loans and credit cards to fill the gaps each month They got letters...read more
Upon marriage, a couple had moved into the house that one of them owned, and rented out the one that the partner had owned. The case at a glance: A couple were happily renting out their second property to a family They both lost their jobs in quick succession...read more
After a Marital split, the husband in the couple had moved out and stopped paying the mortgage. Wendy's case at a glance: Husband had left and stopped paying mortgage £30,000 mortgage arrears Three autistic children meant she needed to stay where she was for...read more
A lovely lady had inherited her Sister’s house in Westcliff after she sadly passed away - a bungalow with serious damp problems. Lucy’s case at a glance: Inherited a property from her sister Couldn't afford to keep the property running Didn’t understand the...read more