It is the 3rd week in January and you are starting to look at your bank balance and wonder

“is this month ever going to end?”

and

“I always have so much month left at the end of my money.”

Christmas was great, but it is a distant memory and the financial mistakes and over indulgences are now biting you and you don’t know what to do to get through financially until the end of the month.

First things first you can’t do anything about your past financial splurges so stop beating yourself up about it.

It’s done.

Step one is you need to work out how long is it until payday.

Let’s assume you have 1 week to go, look at your bank statements online from the last two months and work out what direct debits are going to hit the account between now and payday.

Assuming they are all essentials you need to allow for them.

Next look in the press, have you enough food?

If not allow for a grocery shop!

Now, look at your diary, what things do you have to do before you get paid that are going to cost money.

If there are social things on then ask yourself do you really need to go out with the girls/lads again?

You saw them loads over Christmas….

Be ruthless, pull out of any non-essential social events or other events that will cost you money.

By now you should have a good feel for how much you need to get you to the end of the month. Sometimes when you face up to this you realise things are not as bad as you thought.

But if they are, what are your options?

In order of preferences.

Borrow from family

I always find that if you are forced to ask family or friends for money it can often be a great filter for what is essential and what is discretionary.

If you are 42 years old and must ask your mammy for money it is likely you will only ask because it is absolutely essential.

Borrowing from your family or friends is often the first choice because it is usually interest-free but carries enough emotional baggage that you will likely pay it back.

Ask your boss

This is a long shot but some employers will give you an advance as a once off.

It might be worth asking.

There is a new company called Wagestream that has introduced technology where you can draw down the wages you have earned so far this month without asking your boss and then when you are paid, they take it back from your wages.

They don’t charge interest they just charge a €1.75 transaction fee. But your company has to be set up with them.

Borrow from the Credit Union

If family, friends or your boss are not an option the credit union is often a good port of call.

This is because they will often agree to small loans and short repayment terms.

Their interest rates can be competitive, and they usually turn the money around quickly.

If that isn’t an option, the banks may help you.

Credit Card

Try and avoid it but if you must, use the credit card.

Remember taking cash off a credit card is often more expensive than using the card in a shop.

Once you use the card to get what you need, apply to transfer your credit card to a 0% card provider as soon as possible.

Credit card companies will give you 0% for 6 or 9 months depending on the company to attract you to come to them.

More than 80% will still have a balance when the interest-free period finishes, be in the 20%!!

Payday loan

These are loans usually with ridiculous interest rates (I checked today and the rates available in Ireland are 187.2%) that you pay back when you next get paid.

Don’t be under any assumptions these are ok.

These loans are given out by money lenders and the problem with them is that even though the interest rates are ridiculously high, experience abroad has been that over 75% of payday loans are paid off using a payday loan putting you into a spiral of debt, paying interest on interest.

Avoid, avoid, avoid!!

Finally, what you need to do is to realise that Christmas is not a surprise, it will happen again next year.

So, start preparing now.

Work out how much extra you spent this year in total, include food, clothes, gifts and nights out and then get your number.

Let’s say your number this year was €1100… now save €100 per month from now until November.

If you do, then you won’t feel the way you feel right now next January.

If you can’t afford to save €100 per month, then let’s be honest, you are spending too much on Christmas.

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