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

How to use the poorest day of the year to turn your finances around

british pounds

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?

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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 uSwitch.com, 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

Vintage money-saving tips