How you can ben­e­fit in less time than it took Dono­hoe to de­liver his speech...

Irish Independent - - News | Budget 2018 - Char­lie We­ston Per­sonal Fi­nance Edi­tor

FI­NANCE Min­is­ter Paschal Dono­hoe’s Bud­get this week de­liv­ered puny gains to work­ers, pen­sion­ers and oth­ers get­ting so­cial wel­fare pay­ments. Many will gain just €5 a week.

Here are 10 quick ways you can quadru­ple the gains from Tues­day’s Bud­get.

1) CLAIM YOUR TAX RE­LIEFS Up to a third of el­i­gi­ble tax­pay­ers are un­aware they can get size­able tax re­liefs to off­set some of the cost of nurs­ing home fees, home­care costs and med­i­cal ex­penses.

Tax re­lief at 40pc is avail­able for those fund­ing nurs­ing home fees.

Tax re­lief is also avail­able for ex­pen­di­ture in­curred by an in­di­vid­ual for them­selves or fam­ily mem­bers which have not been fully re­im­bursed by a pri­vate health in­surer or lo­cal author­ity. Re­lief is granted at the 20pc rate.

The home carer tax credit was in­creased by €100 in the Bud­get to €1,200. It may be claimed by a cou­ple where one spouse/civil part­ner cares for one or more chil­dren or el­derly in­ca­pac­i­tated per­sons.

2) GET A BET­TER MORT­GAGE RATE

Thou­sands of mort­gage hold­ers are over­pay­ing be­cause they are fail­ing to ap­ply for lower rates with their own bank.

In some cases, lower in­ter­est rates on home loans are avail­able by sim­ply filling out a form. Cus­tomers of Per­ma­nent TSB, KBC and Bank of Ire­land could all avail of lower rates, but are not ask­ing for them. Some 125,000 vari­able-rate cus­tomers in the three banks are af­fected. Many lenders have lower fixed rates than their vari­ables.

Banks also have LTV (loan-to-value) rates. This is a rate based on the eq­uity in the home. The more eq­uity you have the lower the rate you pay. You ap­ply to the bank for th­ese rates.

3) GET A BET­TER DEAL ON MORT­GAGE PRO­TEC­TION IN­SUR­ANCE

It is a com­mon mis­con­cep­tion that mort­gage pro­tec­tion in­sur­ance must be bought di­rectly from a mort­gage lender, but this isn’t the case. Bor­row­ers can shop around for cheaper mort­gage pro­tec­tion in­sur­ance at the time of their draw-down, or at any stage of their loan term.

Non-smok­ers who switch mort­gage pro­tec­tion in­sur­ance will save an es­ti­mated €190 a year, ac­cord­ing to Mark Whe­lan of price com­par­i­son site Bonkers.ie. Over the course of a 20-year loan, this adds up to a sav­ing of €3,800.

4) GET CHEAPER HEALTH IN­SUR­ANCE

Cor­po­rate plans are of­ten the best value plans in the mar­ket.

They are avail­able to all mem­bers and nor­mally cover all pub­lic and pri­vate hospi­tals, and also in­clude guar­an­teed re­funds on out-pa­tient ex­penses with no ex­cess to pay first.

Here are three that are good value, ac­cord­ing to Der­mot Goode of To­talHealthCover.ie:

■ VHI PMI 3513: €1,303 per adult;

■ Laya Sim­ply Con­nect Plus:

€1,295 per adult;

■ Ir­ish Life Health 4D Health

2: €1,272 per adult.

5) SWITCH GAS AND ELEC­TRIC­ITY PROVIDERS Switch­ing en­ergy sup­pli­ers is one of the eas­i­est ways to save money. There are 10 sup­pli­ers in the Ir­ish mar­ket now, and cus­tomers with av­er­age con­sump­tion can save €348 by switch­ing from a stan­dard plan to a cheap dis­counted deal.

En­er­gia is of­fer­ing a 33pc dis­count to new elec­tric­ity cus­tomers, and Elec­tric Ire­land is of­fer­ing €175 cash back. New sup­plier Just En­ergy is of­fer­ing a mar­ketlead­ing 12-month fixed gas rate and Flo­gas is of­fer­ing a

22pc dis­count. 6) DITCH THE TV CHAN­NELS YOU NEVER WATCH

More and more peo­ple are watch­ing TV on­line th­ese days, mak­ing tra­di­tional TV sub­scrip­tions less im­por­tant than they once were.

Tele­coms com­pa­nies still try to sell triple­play and quad­play bun­dles to cus­tomers, leav­ing many house­holds pay­ing for bloated TV plans they don’t want or need. Con­sumers can save up to €667 by can­celling their TV pack­age and mov­ing all of their view­ing on­line.

All that is needed is a Chrome­cast – which al­lows you to beam the pro­gramme on your lap­top to your tele­vi­sion set – and a good broad­band-only deal. Sky is of­fer­ing 100Mb broad­band for €39 a month and Virgin Me­dia is of­fer­ing 240Mb for €44 a month for the first six months, in­creas­ing to €54 af­ter that, ac­cord­ing to Bonkers.ie.

7) GET A WOMEN’S RATE ON YOUR CAR IN­SUR­ANCE Women tend to have fewer ac­ci­dents, as they are a bet­ter risk for in­sur­ers. How­ever, anti-gen­der dis­crim­i­na­tion laws mean in­sur­ers can’t charge a man less than a wo­man for cover.

But one com­pany that mar­kets mainly to women,

who are safer driv­ers, tends to be more com­pet­i­tive –

It­s4Women.ie. Un­der the law

It­s4women.ie can­not refuse to take on men. But it can of­fer bet­ter rates be­cause most of its cus­tomers are lower-risk fe­male driv­ers.

8) BUY IN BULK

Goods that have no best­be­fore date should be bought in bulk. This is es­pe­cially the case if they are on spe­cial of­fer. A fam­ily could save up to €500 a year by buy­ing non-per­ish­ables in large vol­umes when they are on spe­cial of­fer, ac­cord­ing to Karl Deeter, co-au­thor of ‘This Book Is Worth €25,000’. 9) HAGGLE We Ir­ish are smart, but we of­ten for­get to haggle. Sell­ers will of­ten be flex­i­ble on the price if you flash the cash. Re­mem­ber if you are ea­ger to buy some­thing you are a hot sales prospect, so a re­tailer won’t want you to walk away.

This may not work in large re­tail op­er­a­tions, but you would be sur­prised how of­ten hag­gling can be ef­fec­tive. On big ticket items like cars or fridges you should al­ways haggle. Ask the man­ager or the owner for a deal. Al­ways be man­nerly.

10) GET FEE-FREE BANK­ING

The main banks all pro­vide ways to ei­ther re­duce or avoid fees, but each bank has dif­fer­ent cri­te­ria.

The over-60s gen­er­ally get free bank­ing, but you may have to ap­ply for it.

For other peo­ple, banks of­fer the op­tion of waiv­ing all fees if you keep a cer­tain amount of money on de­posit at all times.

Given that sav­ings ac­counts’ in­ter­est rates are so low at the mo­ment it might be worth your while treat­ing your cur­rent ac­count like a sav­ings ac­count.

You might not earn in­ter­est but you’ll save your­self a lot in trans­ac­tion fees.

For an in-depth guide on how to save money on ev­ery­thing from en­ergy bills to in­sur­ance costs, read... ‘This Book is worth €25,000’ by Char­lie We­ston

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