Most consumers are under pressure in January and usually consider ‘run-of-the-mill’ strategies, such as making their own lunches or foregoing their cappuccino just to make it to the end of the month, however there are other tricks to help navigate to the next payday without accumulating debt

“Getting through January is always a battle as everyone is stretched to their limit financially,” says Eunice Sibiya, head of consumer education at FNB. “Challenge yourself to get through the month on a ‘shoe-string’ budget and consider some unconventional ways to make it to the other side.”

Self-imposed house arrest

The greatest temptation to spend money you don’t have is to go to places that encourage spending. So staying at home is the safest option.

“This may seem a bit dramatic but without the temptation of malls or restaurants, it is unlikely that you will be able to spend compulsively,” says Sibiya.

If you leave the house to visit friends or family, don’t take any cash or cards with you. And if you need to make a purchase, such as groceries or back-to-school stuff for the kids, take a list and stick to it … and don’t take extra ‘helpers’ who may convince you to buy additional items along the way.

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Sell unwanted stuff for quick cash

If you want a quick cash injection to get you through the month, consider doing a ‘spring clean’.

“Most consumers have stuff that they haven’t used or won’t use lying around the house,” says Sibiya. “Now is the perfect time, while you’re housebound, to go through everything.”

Rope in your family to help in a thorough clean-out. Nothing is off limits including clothing you haven’t worn in ages, sporting and recreation equipment and games, old cell phones or even larger items such as furniture or trailers.

There are many stores that will pay cash immediately for your goods. If you have a bit more energy you could consider selling it yourself on an online site.

“When selling items privately, make sure that you receive proof of payment or cash before you hand over the goods,” says Sibiya.

Cut down on everyday expenses

While there are some easy wins such as packing lunch or foregoing your daily cappuccino, consider cutting back on other everyday expenses.

“Our phone bills are definitely something to cut back on. Chatting on the phone or surfing the Internet on your phone quickly adds up,” says Sibiya. “Put your phone away, or use Internet hot spots to do your messaging this month.”

Make a conscious effort to save water and electricity, as well as consider car-pooling for the rest of the month. Not only will it reduce your bill, but also your impact on the environment.

If you pre pay for your services this will help immediately, however, savings on a post-paid bill can go towards paying off or reducing any money you may owe.

Use inventive ways to purchase items

Many stores and services providers have rewards programmes, such as eBucks, that you can make full use of over this period.

“This is the time to max out any rewards programme that you have access to, whether it is your bank, cell phone provider, grocery store or pharmacy,” says Sibiya. “Even a few cents on an item will make a difference.”

Make it a team effort

Everyone feels the pinch at this time of the year. So challenge your family and friends to cut down with you.

“Let your family know that you are aiming to get to the end of January on as little cash as possible. They are integral to the plan, as you will need their help to cut down on household expense and they may even help come up with other ways to save,” concludes Sibiya.