The most cash-strapped day of the year: 19th January

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19th January is officially the poorest day of the year - as we wrestle with the dual challenge of having spent a third more than usual in December, and having to wait up to 45 days between paydays in December and January. So how can we get through it?

See also: One in four are losing sleep over debts: what should you do?

See also: January could be the death of you - and your family's finances

See also: Four ways to beat your Blue Monday money worries

A survey, by uSwitch, suggests that a huge number of people will simply fail to meet spending commitments this month - and let bills and repayments fall by the wayside. Around a third of all people are worried they will fall short on at least one spending commitment, and two fifths of those aged 18-34 will.

One in ten people said it was their credit card repayments that were most likely to suffer, while a worrying 1 million are in danger of defaulting on their mortgage.

While it's not an ideal situation, it's better in the long term to borrow money sensibly than miss spending commitments - which will begin to mount up and will have a long term detrimental effect on your credit rating. Some 13% will take this approach.

Tashema Jackson, money expert at, says, however, that how we borrow this money is key. She explains: "Don't get taken in by the first offer you see, shop around for the best deals."

However, a successful approach doesn't just involve borrowing to make it to the end of the month, it also involves the kinds of changes that ensure you stop running out of cash at the end of every month. The good news is that the study found 46% of people planned this too.

And if you're canny about how you do it, you can get back in the black quickly - without having to make any major sacrifices.

Don't sacrifice

When you're examining your outgoings, it pays to do the easy stuff first. The survey showed that one in ten people plan to cut back on energy use. It's a great idea for a lot of reasons, but it's also worth hunting down the best possible deals on all your utilities, phone and media packages. uSwitch says that you could save over £1,000 during the year this way.

Another easy win is to examine the things you spend money on that you get very little value out of - like unused subscriptions and gym memberships. If you don't use them, you can cut back without missing out.

A fifth of people will cut back on going out, which makes perfect sense, and a fifth will spend less on food. If you plan to save this way, of course, it's best to trade down from brands to supermarket own brands, or from one of the big four to a discounter, rather than convince yourself you'll just have to eat less - or cut back on fresh food.

Meanwhile, almost one in ten will sell off their unwanted possessions or return Christmas presents. You could be surprised at just how much value you have lying around the house gathering dust. A study by Aviva found that there's around £1,414 in unwanted gadgetry in the average home, and while you won't get full value for what you sell, you could easily make £500. Likewise, your wardrobe could generate £200, and the garage, £300, so a clear out could bring in £1,000.

A study by Comparethemarket found that the average person spends £650 on Christmas. Assuming, therefore, a couple has spent £1,300, they could recoup £1,000 by selling off unwanted items, and save £150 a month on cheaper bills, a cheaper supermarket and cancelled subscriptions. They can pay it all back by March - and by the following December have plenty of cash in the bank to cover Christmas.

So what are you waiting for? It's time to turn the year's most cash-strapped day into the one where your finances were transformed for the better.

Vintage money-saving tips
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Vintage money-saving tips
Back then there was no choice, because the mass-produced microwaveable meal was just a glint in a marketing guru's eye, but now, cooking from scratch can save substantial sums.
The older generation learned that there were meat-free days of the week to save money, and that if you had meat you''d stretch mince with breadcrumbs, or buy cheaper joints and use every scrap.
Perfect fruit and vegetables and top-of-the-range brands are a new phenomenon. Buy generic non-branded food and fruit and vegetables in whatever size and shape is most affordable

Nowadays we rush around the supermarket grabbing things we like the look of - with little idea of what we're going to do with it. Making a list and thinking about what you buy can save you thousands of pounds over the course of a year.

There's no such thing as 'left-overs' there's just the ingredients for tomorrow's dinner. The remains of the meat can be stir-fried the next day, the vegetables blended into  soup, and the potatoes saved for bubble and squeak.

Try an experiment and eliminate everything from your life with the word disposable in the title. Not only will you save money, but your bin will take far longer to fill too.

Before you bin anything, think twice about whether you can give it a second life. Think carefully, does your granny have her tried and tested tips that she has a habit of mentioning, for instance, washing out freezer bags? If you mock, you're missing a trick and wasting money and resources.
Cutting out draughts and insulating your home properly can cut 10% off your heating bill.
Back in the 1940s when no-one had central heating, people got used to wearing another layer at home. Try lowering your thermostat gradually, and only stop when those around you start to notice - you'll be surprised how much you can save.
If you save your washing and dish washing until you have a full load every time you'll save energy and save money.
Over the generations we have been sucked into believing the hype. In the days when adverts were few-and-far between, we managed without many of the things we consider essential nowadays. Re-consider what you buy, and why. Without advertising, would you buy any of it?
It's always cheaper to save in advance and plan a purchase than to rush in and borrow - which could end up costing you hundreds of pounds more in interest.
Older generations typically withdraw what they can afford to spend in cash and then leave their debit card at home or deep in their wallets. This has the advantage that they don't tend to reach for a debit or credit card and spend more than they can afford.
Because the older generations couldn't borrow their way out of trouble, they tended to plan more. Give your family a financial safety and a nest egg for the future.
Back when there were only a finite number of items of clothing to go around in a neighbourhood, people borrowed from each other for special occasions. Nowadays swapping and sharing can save substantial sums
Back in the 1940s when no-one had central heating, people got used to wearing another layer at home. Try lowering your thermostat gradually, and only stop when those around you start to notice - you'll be surprised how much you can save.
There was a time not so long ago when no-one could actually remember anyone who had actually bought a bike. They were passed through the siblings, then across family and friends networks, so that decades later, children were still learning to ride a bike for free. Of course it helps if you buy something gender-neutral, then you can hand it down, and reap the benefits as others hand expensive toys on to you.
In previous generations, neighbours would think nothing of asking each other to babysit, walk their dog, or to borrow a ladder. Nowadays we pay handsomely for babysitters and dog walkers, and each have an expensive ladder gathering dust in the shed.
The army of people who come to our homes to do odd jobs is a new phenomenon for all but the very wealthy. You may well have the skills required to complete these jobs, so get stuck in.

Ditch going out for dinner or browsing round the shops for taking a walk, visiting the beach with a picnic, or holding a family DVD night.

Nowadays we're constantly striving for a bigger TV, a flashier car and a better kitchen. Generations ago people never considered that they would ever be able to afford bigger, flashier and better, so they got on with the business of enjoying what they had.

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