This was signalled by the seasonally adjusted Household Finance Index (HFI) falling from 45.2 to 43.9. The latest reading was slightly below the average over 2016 as a whole (44.3).
Meanwhile, income from employment dropped slightly in January. That followed a three month sequence of broadly stagnant pay.
Current inflation perceptions picked up for the fourth month running to a three -year high in January. The seasonally adjusted index posted 80.3, above the series average of 76.
The index measuring expected living costs showed an almost identical trend, surging
to its highest since February 2014. The reading of 90.5 signalled that forecasts of further inflation were widespread among surveyed households.
Markit economist Phil Leake said: "The first HFI survey of 2017 suggested that mounting price pressures pose a threat to UK households' financial wellbeing. Current finances deteriorated in January amid the sharpest rise in price perceptions since early 2014."