Getting your financial “waste line” back under control after a festive period stuffed with spending overindulgence is always an uphill battle. Most people struggle to get their money situation into shape once the Christmas tree’s back in the attic. Just remember that these critical first few steps in January will set the pace for your whole year. Here a few smart moves to make sure you’ll see the best gains with the fewest pains.

Beat the bloat by slimming down your debts

With about a third of us letting our debts balloon over the run-up to Christmas, it’s important to realise that even if you’re cutting back on the financial flab in your day-to-day spending, your existing debts are probably still feeding themselves. Interest can balloon up what you owe at a scary pace. So much so, in fact, that you’re generally better off paying down those expensive debts than actually saving money in the long run.

So if your credit card’s weighing you down with interest payments, it’s time to lighten your load. Switching to a 0% deal is a great power move, and can buy you some valuable breathing space while you boost your overall financial fitness. Call it the ultimate in credit cardio training.

Track your activity

Another great exercise for tightening up those saggy money muscles is to make a wealth workout plan and stick to it. Decide what your goals are right from the start and flex your finances until you achieve them. There are plenty of apps to choose from to help you make your monthly spending plans - and it needn’t all be “grimace and clench” moves, either.

Like any other kind of exercise, little and often will always bring better results than big ambitions you’ll never stick to. Just skipping some little daily treat you barely even think about can save hundreds of pounds over a year. It’s not always what you do that matters – Sometimes, what you do without can be just as powerful. Think about that the next time you’re letting half a dozen unneeded subscription services roll over into another year.

Manage your energy levels

It’s all too easy to get lazy when it comes to energy suppliers, but a government report has estimated that an average household could save over £300 a year by switching to another tariff or supplier.

It’s not just electricity and gas energy we’re talking about, either. When was the last time you compared your mortgage deal against what else was on offer? How about your insurance, phone or broadband package? Overall, making a few basic changes could leave you thousands of pounds better off over a year. It’s not difficult to do, so don’t let “never getting round to it” be the reason why you never met your financial fitness goals.

The same principle applies to your savings. You don’t have to throw every penny you have into an ISA to max out your allowance once a year. Just do what you can when you can, so you don’t get burned out. In the fitness game it’s the long run that matters, not the short sprint.

Watch your waste

If you know RIFT, then you already know what our top financial fitness move is. If you want to really flex your money muscles, you need to be sure that none of your cash is going to waste. That means clawing back every penny the taxman owes you each year with an HMRC refund claim from RIFT.

Just like in the gym, the most powerful moves are always best done with a partner. As the UK’s leading expert in tax refunds, RIFT is the perfect spotter to work out with. We’ll keep you safe, strong and healthy into the New Year, so get in touch to put some real power into your yearly claims.