1. Firstly and most importantly, look at your bills and bank statements and work out if you are spending more than you actually earn - many people don't actually know what they are spending on a weekly/monthly basis.
2. Pay down your debts. It doesn't matter whether they are overdraft, credit card, loan or mortgages. Be frugal with your spending and make sure that any spare cash you have pays off your most expensive debt, interest-wise. Make sure you know what the interest rates are on all your different debts. If your credit card has the most expensive interest and it will take months to pay it off - try switching to a 0% card or take a second job or sell your rubbish on Ebay. Just get rid of your debt. Save up for whatever it is you need to buy. Other people's money is too expensive to use.
3. Shop at Aldi or Lidl as much as you can. They are great for store cupboard essentials like tinned tomatoes, sweetcorn, butter beans etc. For basics, they still seem to beat the big boys, for example, Lidl has avocados at 29p, 750g pack of red onions for 29p, 2kg pack of Rooster potatoes 79p, Savoy cabbage at 29p and Goodfella's pepperoni pizza at £1 - try finding those sort of prices at Mr T's!
4. Take a close look at all your regular bills - those things that slip quietly out of your bank account on direct debits every month. Cancel what you don't need and scrutinise the amounts on the others. Can you switch utility providers, get cheaper car, contents or house insurance? Are you with BT for your landline? Can you find a better deal - even if it's still with them? Should you be receiving Council Tax benefit? Help the Aged says around a quarter of over 60s are not claiming the Council Tax benefit they are entitled to. Which brings me neatly to my next point.
5. Find out if you can claim any benefits - whether you are retired, a student, a carer, employed or unemployed, you may be due some benefits, and the sad fact is that no-one is going to call you up or knock on your door and tell you that! Check out entitledto.com a site where you can (anonymously) enter your income and personal details to check whether there are benefits you are missing out on. You don't have to give your name or address or NI number, or anything else that would identify you, you mostly only have to click on "Yes" or "No" and it will take you through the process. Give it a go - it only takes a few minutes - you have nothing to lose and may be something to gain!
Happy Frugal New Year!
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