It's fun while it lasts, but all too often, Christmas leaves us with debt we could do without, and that means cutting your spending budget come the New Year. If you're leaning towards the world of the shopaholic and find it hard to keep hold of your cash, here are a few tips to help you shop smart in 2015.
What with credit cards, debit cards, online shopping and contactless payments, buying stuff has never been easier, but relying on plastic or PayPal often makes us feel that we're not really spending the money. For those who too readily reach for the cards, cash if the best way to curb those unnecessary costs. Withdraw enough cash for your daily essentials and leave the cards at home. That way you won't need to worry about giving in to temptation.
Once a month food shop
Picking up a little of what you fancy on the way home often means you're spending over the odds at express supermarkets or corner shops. Though the thought of one big supermarket shop each month might not sound very appealing, it forces you to work out how much you can spend, and plan meals ahead so that you've always got something ready and waiting when you get home. Make a list of the items you need and stick to it - and just remember, you won't have to think about it again for a whole month. To really make the money go further, budget for homemade packed lunches, which will keep you away from the shops where you might be tempted to impulse buy.
A night out at the cinema, theatre, dinner or pub can very quickly eat away at those all-important pennies, and if you're on a budget, those luxury nights out will probably have to go. That doesn't mean you have to stop having fun, however. Instead, get creative and think about ways you can entertain yourself, whether it's a picnic in the park on a summer's evening, a special movie night, or a new (hopefully affordable) hobby that will keep you occupied without costing a fortune. You could even volunteer at a local charity.
It's easy to fool yourself into thinking you need something when you're not watching the pennies, but if debt is a problem, it could pay to just count to ten and think before you head to the nearest till. Calculate how much that item will increase your debt and how much longer it will take to pay off, or if you're saving up for something special, consider how much nearer your goal you will be if you put the debit card away. It'll give you a clear idea of whether it's something you really want, or whether you're succumbing to old habits.
Out with the old, in with the new
Of course there will be times when you do treat yourself, but instead of cluttering up your home, why not replace rather than accumulate? Each time you buy yourself something new, think about items that are unused and unloved, and see whether you can sell them to cover at least part of the cost.
Get some shuteye
Retail therapy is all very well, but the buzz quickly wears off if you've spent more than you can afford. If you spot an item that you really want, from gadgets to designer gear, don't rush to the nearest available online or brick-and-mortar outlet - sleep on it. After a good night's kip, you may find you don't really need or want to spend the cash, and it'll still be there in the morning if you do decide it's a must-have.
Have you managed to curb your spending? What tips and tricks helped to keep your shopping habits healthy? Leave your comments below...