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Hardship support: 9 tips for January

The RCN Foundation have partnered with debt advice experts PayPlan to provide free advice and support to nurses, midwives and health care support workers experiencing hardship. In this series, we share the PayPlan team’s top tips for saving money in sustainable ways.

January is never the easiest financial month. Aiming to save money makes for a great resolution, but what’s the best way do it? Cutting costs is easier to do when you have a clear target, and a bit of support too.

Here are PayPlan’s nine top tips for managing your money this month

  1. Check your car insurance, home insurance, pet insurance and any other policies you hold to see when these are due to end. Put a reminder in your calendar a few weeks before they expire so you can check comparison sites before they run out. That way, you can pick the best deals and save on monthly or annual outgoings.

  2. Review your mobile phone apps and subscriptions, and cancel any paid-for ones that you don’t need or use. You could also save by switching to a cheaper phone contract.

  3. Review your benefit entitlement and check you are getting everything you are entitled to using PayPlan's simple tool.

  4. Start a budget, using a PayPlan template. Figure out what you’ve got coming in, what your essential outgoing costs are (food, transport, rent/mortgage etc) and what costs aren’t essential. These might be things like a neglected gym membership, or a rarely-used entertainment service.

  5. Clearing debts before you start putting money aside will mean you won’t pay as much interest and charges to the debts. Be sure to pay any priority debts (mortgage arrears, rent arrears, utility arrears or council tax arrears) before overpaying on credit cards or loans.

  6. Audit your wardrobe. Give forgotten clothes some TLC and wear them with pride, or make back some of the money spent on them by selling them on sites like eBay, Facebook Marketplace or Depop.

  7. The majority – 86%, in fact – of people who take part in Dry January report that they have saved money. And of course, cutting down on alcohol purchases doesn't just have to be for January!

  8. Set a savings goal and have a date you want to achieve it by. Use your budget to see how much you can save each month, set the money aside into a savings account, and watch it grow, slowly but surely.

  9. Learning money management isn’t something that’s taught in schools, so if you have kids, use your experience to help them spend their money wisely. Get the kids to do chores for pocket money and teach them how to save so they can buy the new toy or game they want.

When you want to meet a financial target, keep returning to it, and don’t let the occasional setback or bad day stop you. Allow yourself to learn from the hard moments, then focus on how good you will feel when you have met your target.

It can be daunting making a big lifestyle change, but the team at PayPlan can help. It’s hard to know where to start, so take the first step by visiting PayPlan's portal for RCN Foundation beneficiaries.