We all love the festive season, but December is a difficult month for sticking to your budget. If you got a little carried away with your spending over the holidays, then February is the perfect opportunity to get your finances back on track. With this in mind, here are five easy budgeting ideas that will help you to avoid breaking the bank in 2013.

Ask for a better deal

Countless households across the country are paying too much on their everyday bills, including costs like energy, water and internet. There are some excellent comparison sites available that provide you with an estimate of the best deal on offer, so jump online and check if you’re paying too much.

Many energy providers also offer a discount for homeowners who incorporate their gas and electricity under one bundle package. Finally, if you’re not convinced you’re getting the best deal then now is the time to ask who will offer a better one. Many banks and telephone providers also offer an incentive for customers to switch to their services, including a cash bonus.

Sell that junk

If your present haul this year wasn’t quite up to scratch, why not use your unwanted pressies to make some extra cash? From toasters to clothing, you can buy and sell just about everything on the internet today.

It’s also a great way to clear your life of unnecessary clutter. After all, who wouldn’t want less junk and more spending money to welcome in the new year?

Cut the food bill

The food bill is an expense that nearly every household could improve on. If you’re not convinced then open up your fridge and see how many branded products fill the shelves compared to the budget ranges. Actively cutting back on expensive branded products will help bring your bill down every week.

When you hit the shopping isles it pays to be savvy about the store’s ultimate goal – trying to make you spend money. Never shop on an empty stomach in order to resist the impulse purchases strategically placed at the till. And always bring a list so you don’t stray into the confectionary isles.

Finally, never opt for the first product that catches your eye on the shelves – chances are the marketing team designed it that way. Always compare the cost of each product to its competition, utilise savings coupons and, whenever possible, shop in bulk to make the most of a good discount.

Start buying now

If Christmas was an expensive time of year then now is the time to get prepared for 2013’s festivities. Purchasing presents for family and friends throughout the year will help distribute the expense and avoid a huge dent in your November and December budget. The same goes for non-perishable food products – but be sure to store them away from any hungry mouths!

Spoil yourself

Starting the year with a thrifty attitude doesn’t need to mean ruling out all fun. It’s important to find ways to treat yourself occasionally - and keeping an eye out for deals and discounts makes this more affordable.

For ladies who love their retail therapy, you can still spoil yourself with some shopping but be sure to scope out the best deals online first. Also, keep an eye out for the latest vouchers and coupons, which can help you to save money on things like restaurant dining, beauty treatments and petrol for weekends away.