Okay, people, time to get down and dirty about these bills that are piling up on the kitchen table. This is January - what the December's extravagances have left in their wake is enough to turn anyone stomach. Yet we go through this every single year. We buy anything and everything to our heart's content and then what? NOTHING! A big fat zero in the bank account - that's no way to live!

How are we going to get through this?

Every week, you'll find me replying to your queries about spending (or not) and every week, I'll try to pull you out of the mess or improve your bottom line, so that next year you'll have a sac-full of money to spend at Christmas.

Among the bills, you'll find three or four that you cannot ignore. Apart from your rent or mortgage, your hydro and phone bills are the ones you should never ignore, postpone or even put in the garbage under the pretext that you've never received it. If you ever had your telephone disconnected, or being without heat or light during the winter months, you'll know what I mean. So, next paycheck let's pay those. As for your TV cable; that's another one you don't want to discard - for the time being. Winter evenings are far too long without a TV.

Next come the credit cards. One word of advice - let's check those interest rates, shall we? If they sound like a rip-off, or even remotely resemble those of your friendly money-lender, you need to pay that bill first, cut the card, and never speak to the company rep. again.

Now that we've cleared three items on the list, let's see what's left; food, gas, pocket money for the kids, bus change, and a six-pack at the end of the week or a bottle of wine for Sunday dinner. Did I forget anything? Oh yes, dry-cleaning, school or kitchen supplies and clothes Can't go to the office naked, now can we?

In the next few weeks, depending on the amount you need to pay on these dreaded bills, you may be able to do without a few things that you may want but not necessarily need.

Do you need to go out for dinner? NO! You may want to go out, but you don't really need to - you're on a diet, remember?

Do you need to buy the latest spring fashion yet? NO! Spring is not here yet - we still have snow on the ground, for goodness sakes.

Do you need to buy a $5.00 coffee every single morning? NO! You may be addicted to the wonderful brew, but you may need to cut down on caffeine or drink the office brew for awhile.

Anyway, you get the drift - anything that you do not need, you be taken off the list for the time being.

Next week, we'll start with "what you need - and don't need" by way of items that you could do without, while putting back some money in your wallet.

And please, don't forget - I'll reply to any query you may have.