The tail end of winter can be the worst time of the year. The festivities can seem like forever ago (except for the bills) and spring can seem like forever away. It’s easy to say “don’t let the winter blues get you down”, but it can be a lot harder in practice. So, with that in mind, here are some suggestions as to how you can survive, and even thrive, over this last little bit of the winter.
Have a financial clearout and organisation session
This may not sound like a barrel of laughs but would you rather do it while the weather is dire or later in the year when the sun is shining and you just want to be outside and enjoying it. Dig up your financial paperwork, take any necessary actions and then either file it or shred it.
Set yourself targets for now and going forward
Similar comments apply here. If you spent more than you planned over the festive period, then you need to figure out what went wrong and what you’re going to do about it. You might also want to think about what you’re going to do to make sure that it doesn’t happen again this coming year. Instead of beating yourself up for overspending, frame this exercise positively. You are going to learn from your mistakes and come back stronger in 2020.
Bite the bullet and sell anything you can’t return
By this point in time, you’re probably way too late to return any items you bought over the festive period and now wish you hadn’t. There’s no harm in double-checking, some retailers do have fairly generous returns policies and some may operate an extended returns period after Christmas, but at this point, you’d probably have to be pretty lucky to be able to get your money back from a retailer.
Instead, make an honest assessment of whether or not you really want the item and if the answer is no then make a commitment to getting rid of it, preferably getting back some of your cash in the process. If you end up donating some (or all) of what you bought, sign up for gift aid. That way the charity gets more money and you may be able to claim the value of your donations against your tax.
Find out what you can do for free over the coming year
Hit the internet to see what special events are coming up in your local area (or online), which you can attend for free (or for minimal cost). Put them into your calendar. This will not only remind you to take any necessary actions (e.g. you often have to register for tickets for free events), but also serve as a visible reminder that there are some good times on the way.
Remember that there can be one-off, special events on the internet too. Some of them are chargeable (and costs vary) but some are free. These can be particularly good in late winter (and even early spring), when it’s still very much “indoor weather”.
Clear out your food stocks
Make a commitment to emptying out your food stocks completely before you refill them. In other words, you only buy fresh food and anything bits and pieces you need to complete a meal which is made mostly with ingredients you already have. This can be a good way to save money and start getting into the habit of proper meal planning. As a tip, if you have ingredients in your house that you just don’t know how to use up, just do an internet search on “recipes for X and you’ll probably get plenty of ideas.