It’s January and you’re broke.

Not the most uplifting statement to use as an opener, I’ll admit. But, we gotta be real. Good news: you are not alone in your broke-ness. I would bet that everyone minus Donald Trump and a few oil moguls (okay, and a few African presidents) are feeling the January pinch. Ouch.

We’re familiar with the trajectory: January 1 – it’s fun and games. You are in the pre-2016 this-is-going-to-be-my-best-year-ever frenzy. January 7 – you notice there is nothing in your cupboard which isn’t a sauce or a spice. Your dinner options are tuna, noodles or a peanut butter sandwich. Come mid-January  your social life has dwindled to scrolling through Facebook. Even that uses data, so  sadly you put your phone away.

Don’t abandon hope, my penniless friend. We are here to help you.

Thrifty options to make January fun:

1. Go for a hike: Nature is free and it makes you feel good. Plus you are less likely to be judged if you pull out a peanut butter sandwich on top of a mountain than when all your buddies are ordering steak.

2. Have a movie evening: Find someone with all the latest seasons of [insert your favourite series here] and invite over your friends. You can feed people popcorn – there’s an unopened bag hiding behind your sauces.

3. Embrace the quiet time: We all complain about being too busy, but when lack of cash keeps us inside we aren’t happy either. Stop all your moaning and make the most of your quiet nights in. Run a bath, light some candles, read a book.

4. Take public transport: You don’t have to use your car to go everywhere. Most cities have a fairly decent option for you to get from A to B. Public transport is more ecologically friendly, shows you a different side of society, and is way, way cheaper.

5. Learn to cook: Okay, you will need some cash for this. But if you are smart and plan your meals you can go for longer on less. There are loads of options for cheap meals online (you will need data), and Asian noodles with the right additions are not too far a cry from delicious.

6. Go on gym free trial: You should probably join a gym anyway, so why not check out a bunch? Most gyms let you see if you like sweating in their facilities and if their instructors have rock hard abs before you sign the deal. Perhaps that free trial is all you need to get you going.

7. Meditate: We do life way too fast and don’t listen to the still small voice inside us. Read your Bible and think on the good things in life. Think about what you stand for and do some exploration of your spiritual side. Not only is this free but it also makes you more appreciative of what you have – which makes you feel richer even when you aren’t!

8. Make time for family: Aunty Beatrice always wants to see you but you never have time. That’s not true, now you do. Don’t sit at home picking up your data-less phone every two minutes to check the lack of messages on the screen. Go spend some quality time with the people in your family.

9. Get creative: “There’s nothing in my wardrobe” is not entirely true. There is loads in your wardrobe. There are things that with a bit of a cut, dye or bleach can be transformed from ugh to trendy. You don’t have to go shopping to look cool. Unique can be cool, and all that takes is a bit of innovation.

10. Listen to podcasts: All those podcasts you saved on running your own business, how to grow your following from three to 30 000 in three months, and what women want are waiting for you to listen to them. They don’t require your month’s subscription of data and they will enrich your knowledge on a subject. Get your earphones out an learn how to change the world from those who have.

So, there you have it – perhaps being penniless is not as bad as you think. Before you bury your head in despair, stop, smell the roses, and make the smart choices. Don’t spend cash you don’t have. Embrace your peanut butter sandwiches. It’s only one month – blink and it’ll be over.

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