Living costs now at Celtic Tiger levels
Increased tax burden sees families paying more for services
THE cost of living has returned to Celtic Tiger levels despite households seeing only marginal income gains in the last 10 years.
A leading economist has warned of a heavy tax burden on the squeezed middle — with the income tax take increasing by more than 72pc since the boom.
A Sunday Independent analysis of Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures shows consumers are making significant savings on grocery and clothing bills — but these are wiped out by the rising cost of insurance and household spending. Steady price growth, despite low inflation, means the cost of living is now on a par with the year-long period before the Celtic Tiger ended. Low wage growth since 2008 makes this harder for families to cope and explains why many are not experiencing a recovery.
“For a decade there has been very little in the way of wage growth. Over that period the personal tax burden has increased dramatically,” says economist Jim Power. “Back in 2006 we had roughly the same number of people working in the economy as we had in 2018. However, back in 2006 they paid €12.4bn in income tax, 27.2pc of the total tax take.
“In 2018, roughly the same number of people working paid €21.4bn in income tax and accounted for 38.2pc of the total tax take.” An analysis of CSO figures shows household insurance costs have doubled, with rises in health bills, electricity and fuel spending eating up family incomes.
SAVINGS made on groceries are being wiped out by household bills and income tax pressures on working families since the collapse of the Celtic Tiger, a Sunday Independent analysis of Central Statistic Office (CSO) figures shows.
It comes as a leading economist said Ireland’s workforce was being loaded with an increased tax burden and higher living costs.
Economist Jim Power said the overall income tax take from the workforce has increased 72.6pc since the boom.
Weekly grocery bills were 13.9pc lower last year when compared with 2008. But CSO data shows families are spending more on household charges, insurance, electricity and gas — wiping out any gains made over the past 10 years.
Despite low price inflation since 2008, the cost of essential items have slowly crept up to and even surpassed boomtime levels. The cost of living is now on a par with 10 years ago, preventing working families feeling any gains made during the economic recovery.
Economist Jim Power said the squeezed middle was feeling the brunt of these increases. “For a decade there has been very little in the way of wage growth. Over that period the personal tax burden has increased dramatically,” he told the Sunday Independent.
“Back in 2006 we had roughly the same number of people working in the economy as we had in 2018. However, back in 2006 they paid €12.4bn in income tax, 27.2pc of the total tax take. In 2018, roughly the same number of people working paid €21.4bn in income tax and accounted for 38.2pc of the total tax take.”
In the past 10 years, hourly pay across the workforce increased by just €1.40.
A Sunday Independent analysis of Central Statistic Office figures shows despite low inflation rates the cost of living has crept back up to match ‘end of boom’ levels.
As well as savings on food shopping, the figures show significant reductions in prices charged by high-street retailers. Clothing and footwear prices are down 54.6pc in the past decade.
However, increased energy bills, transport costs, insurance and other household expenditure have prevented consumers feeling the benefits of the economic recovery.
“Any price savings people make are being eaten up in other areas and if you look at the growth in the market share of Aldi and Lidl, more consumers are being pushed towards seeking cheaper options where they can,” Mr Power said.
Rising insurance costs were a huge financial burden.
On average, insurance costs in the year to last November were double those for the corresponding period in 2008, just as the Celtic Tiger boom was ending. The CSO Consumer Price Index shows house insurance has increased 54.9pc during this period.
Car insurance has increased 56.2pc. Health insurance is where the biggest increases have been felt — up 141.3pc in the 12 months to last November compared with the same period in 2008.
“This analysis shows tackling the claims culture here is absolutely essential if you want to get your insurance costs down,” said Mr Power.
“People who are making spurious claims for all sorts of injuries are basically stealing money from people’s pockets.”
Other domestic charges are also hitting consumers hard.
Electricity prices were up 30.9pc now compared to 2008, with gas prices up by more than a fifth (20.9pc).
Even modest savings, such as a 3.5pc decrease in the cost of home heating oil, was being offset by a rise in the cost of solid fuels. Coal, briquettes, firelighters and similar products are 21.6pc more expensive now.
Other fuel costs were also up, with petrol costing 17.8pc more and diesel up 4.8pc.
This feeds in to an increase in other transport costs.
Bus fares are up 59pc and passenger journeys by train cost 38.5pc more in the past 12 months compared with the year before the financial crash.
Current health costs are also more expensive.
The analysis of CSO data shows visits to a GP surgery is 9.5pc more expensive now.
Hospital services are up 25.8pc.
Meanwhile, dental services are 18.3pc higher.
The cost of sending a child to third level is now 84.6pc higher. It is 26.4pc more expensive to have a child in secondary school.
Parents whose children are not of school-going age have also faced increased costs.
Childcare costs 13pc more last year compared with 2008.
Treats also cost more now. A meal in a restaurant is 20.3pc more expensive. A measure or spirits costs 15.3pc more. A bottle or pint of beer costs 13.8pc more now, while the cost of a glass of wine rose 11.1pc last year.
“From a consumer’s perspective it is a good time to be buying items like clothes and food, whereas, on the other side of the coin we are all being eaten up by insurances costs and other bills that are rising very strongly,” said Mr Power.
“There has been a massive increase on the burden of income tax over that decade.
“If you combine that with the lack of wage growth and superimpose on top of that the massive escalation we have seen in the price of stuff like insurance you can see why we have a squeezed middle out there.”
Money Doctor John Lowe gives 100 practical tips for tackling your finances,
Plan a yearly household budget — add all your yearly household bills and divide by 12. That figure is the amount you need to put away each month to meet those bills just to run your home. Any capital or luxury spending must be found outside of this annual budget.
You could also adopt a monthly budget if preferred, but you should put at least two hours every month into planning your finances to ensure you are on track with your spending. Remember, if your expenditure exceeds income, you have two choices — earn more or cut costs. You should in any event query EVERY item of expenditure — ask yourself if you need it and is there a better or cheaper alternative? If you are frittering money away, download the free Money Doctor app to help track and control your spending. 2 Think smart with your surplus cash — do not leave surplus money in your current account or low interest-bearing accounts. At least transfer it into your bank’s best deposit account and when you need funds to meet commitments, transfer over a couple of days before due. If that deposit account is sizeable, negotiate with your bank. If their rates are much less than, for example, KBC Bank (0.3pc — the best rate on demand up to €100,000 at time of going to press) they may have the discretion to increase that deposit rate in order to hold on to your business. 3 Check your bank charges regularly and cut down on your bank bills — there are too many cases of overcharging from all the banks to accept that your bank is not one of them. Sometimes, these charges can be waived at the discretion of the manager — if you don’t ask, there’ll be no waiving. Try and avoid exceeding your overdraft permission if you have an overdraft. The surcharges and fees are punitive. You should also operate online bank accounts due to better deals, the fact they’re easier to operate, there’s no waiting in queues and you save on time and travel expense. Check out An Post’s Smart Account, BillPay, or mybills.ie for current account comparisons, log on to ccpc.ie/ currentaccounts orbonkers.ie 4 Check your mortgage and loan interest rates
— sometimes we go to great lengths at the initial stages of obtaining a mortgage or loan trying to ensure the most competitive interest rate at the time. Once taken out, there is a tendency to overlook the maintenance of that loan. You could very easily find out that your lender’s original rate or current advertised interest rate bears no resemblance to your own. This is also a time to check if, currently on a variable rate, you should go fixed, and, if your lender is uncompetitive, to see whether you should switch to another. 5 Avail of your annual Capital Gains Tax (CGT) exemptions — the first €1,270 of chargeable gains to an individual arising from the disposal of a capital asset (eg, shares) is exempt. This is allowable for each tax year, but is not transferable between spouses. The rate payable on CGT is 33pc over the threshold. For Capital Acquisition Taxes (CAT), remember the threshold from parent to child (Group A of three groups) is €320,000 for each child. The tax rate for CAT is also 33pc over the thresholds. 6 Check your life and health cover — you could be over-insured. Review all your insurances. Are you getting the best value? What happens if you or your spouse dies or become permanently incapacitated? If you took out life cover (with home mortgages it is mandatory) you may have been a smoker at the time. Once you are smoke-free for 12 months, you could save yourself over 50pc of the annual premiums. 7 Health insurance comparison — with only three health insurers in Ireland (VHI, LAYA & Irish Life Health – the latter bought out the remaining 51pc of GloHealth, plus Aviva Health and merged the two in the summer of 2016), it is really important you continually update yourself on the best deal for you. The Health Insurance Authority does an excellent comparison of all three and updates it. Check out hia.ie 8 Check your general insurances — your home buildings and contents — to see if the cover is competitive. If you have commercial or residential investment property insurance, is that competitive? Do you require any special risk insurance that you ‘risked’ being without to date — you may not be so ‘lucky’ next year. Public liability, professional indemnity, PC hacker or virus insurance, even insuring for that round of drink after a hole in one on the golf course, etc. 9 Avail of any exemptions on income tax liability
Plus claim any tax reliefs and allowance entitlements up to the last four years. These include medical expenses, rent relief, pension relief, etc (Text MONEYDOCTOR to 53131 and start the tax refund process (normal SMS rates apply).
You may be unwittingly exempt from paying income tax (eg, an Irish resident artist producing originals that has cultural and artistic merit, income from woodlands, etc) while you should also ensure, if self-employed, and your partner is working in the business, that the full entitlement of income tax exemptions is taken up by the partner. 10 Private college fees — tax relief at the standard rate is available for approved courses undertaken by a taxpayer or dependents in approved private colleges. The courses must be full-time undergraduate courses of at least two years’ duration. Postgraduate courses of between one and four years in public colleges and approved private colleges now attract similar tax relief. 11 Help your parents or be helped by your children — Covenants are also still popular with tax relief available for the donor, ie, you. To qualify for tax relief the payments must be capable of lasting for at least six years while the recipient has to have unused tax credits to make the covenant work. If a person is over 65, their son or daughter can pay them up to 5pc of their income under a deed of covenant and the son or daughter will get tax relief on the amount paid. The covenant must be legally documented in order for the person making the payment to receive the tax benefits. Tax at the standard rate (20pc) must be deducted and only the net amount paid over. For example, if a daughter gives her mother €1,000 a year, she makes out a covenant and pays €800 to
the parent. The mother then gets the other €200 by way of a tax rebate from Revenue, while the daughter also gets tax relief of €200. The net cost to the daughter is €600, while the mother gets the benefit of €1,000. The Revenue regards the €1,000 as the mother’s. The daughter has already paid €400 in tax (40pc) on the €1,000 and the tax is now being returned. Effectively, €200 goes back to the daughter and €200 to the mother. The person making the covenant should get tax form R185 from his or her local tax office and submit. 12 Think pensions — if you are self-employed, a 5pc equity holding director or perhaps in an occupational pension scheme (where pension holders can make further payments through an additional voluntary contribution) you should review your pension requirements. Age thresholds still apply — eg, at 50 years old, you can invest 30pc of your net relevant earnings into a pension plan — while for every euro you invest in the fund, you will save tax at your marginal rate depending on the type of pension.
Just remember: if you were retiring now, ask yourself could you live off the €243.30 per week from the State pension? Less than half the working population have provided outside of the State Pension, while in 2018 there were five workers for every person retiring. In 2050, there will be just two.
The incentives are still there to start. Apart from the tax relief on premiums, all growth in the fund is tax-free, plus 25pc of the fund can be taken on retirement by way of a tax-free lump sum (now capped at €200,000 tax free but any excess is taxed at only 20pc). Still worth it. 13 ARFs (approved retirement funds) & AMRFs
— recent changes in the pension laws now allow YOU to decide what you want to do with your retirement fund when you have reached the age of retirement. Up to 1999, the only choice you had was to take out an annuity (a fixed-rate deposit account where you receive a monthly interest cheque until you die — a guaranteed income where the rate never changes) with a Life Insurance Company. When you die, however, the capital or fund stays with that life insurance company and your estate loses out.
For PRSA and AVC pension holders, that has all changed now and that fund can now eventually be passed on to your estate through an approved retirement fund (ARF), introduced in 1999. Three main conditions apply: › You must either have minimum €12,700 pension before investing your fund in an ARF, or if you do not have a pension; › Put €63,500 of your fund into an Approved Minimum Retirement Fund (AMRF) til age 75 and; › You then must withdraw 5pc (4pc under 71 years of age but 6pc over € 2m fund) of the ARF each year — called imputed distribution. The annuity system is still available and has its merits too. It is also hugely important to have growth in this fund, otherwise you will run out of money. Contact your regulated adviser or your preferred pension provider for further details. 14 Operate a charge card or a pre-paid card as opposed to a credit card — credit card balances are normally charged between 9pc and 24pc depending on the credit card company. By switching to a charge card (eg, American Express) you MUST pay off when you receive your statement or it is debited to your bank current account. Another option is pre-paid cards, where you can only spend what you lodge into the card. 15 Think about other forms of investment — for instance, gold, rock’n’roll memorabilia, philately or forestry investment. Ireland is the least afforested country in the EU with forest cover of 9pc as compared with the EU average of 31pc.
The Irish climate is ideal for tree-growing due to our mild wet climate — trees grow three times faster here than elsewhere in Europe. Timber products are also the second-largest import into the EU after oil.
The EU and the Government promote forestry through grants and premia payments. They are keen to reduce agricultural output of which there is a surplus in the EU and substitute it with timber-producing forests for which there is a growing internal EU shortage. 16 Review your investments monthly — products are launched every week and you should be wary of their performance on a regular basis. Rates change, some investments go out of favour — you have to be vigilant. If there is a better rate or greater potential, do not be afraid to move. 17 Claim all your tax reliefs on residential investment properties: › 100pc of annual mortgage interest paid › Maintenance & repair costs › Services charges ( including buildings / block insurance ) › Property Management Charges › Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) fees › 12.5pc of furnishings costs for each of the first 8 years after purchase (receipts must be maintained ) › Local property tax may soon be offset against tax liability on your rental income 18 Working from home — if self-employed, you can reclaim partial costs by working from home, eg, electricity, heat and telecoms. 19 Save — be aware of the changing deposit interest rates. You should also have between three months and six months’ net annual income in a Rainy Day Fund for three reasons: › Emergencies (your car breaks down); › Sudden loss of income (a job loss); › Investment opportunities (buying a rare Arabian oil lamp... ). 20 Rent a room relief — Renting a room in your home is tax free up to a limit of €14,000 per year — no expenses may be deducted and it is not available between connected parties. One-bedroom apartments do not comply. 21 Educate yourself — there is no excuse not to better inform yourself on any financial issue. Seminars, webinars, the printed works, consultations and Google — you are not alone.
FOOD, DRINK AND HOUSEHOLD ITEMS
22 Always shop with a pre-written grocery list — Stick to what is on the list. Men in particular are disastrous for impulse buying. 23 Check to see what you need — before making out a shopping list. Many shoppers buy items they already have in stock. 24 Create a daily list for updating — if you run short of tea, washing-up liquid, kitchen towels, etc, these can be added to your main shopping list. 25 Look for special sale announcements — in your store, newspapers, radio and television. It may be worth your while buying a month’s supply of an item you would normally buy, if you can avail of a huge discount. 26 Shop only once a month for your nonperishables — this means you have to plan for the full month and should not overspend by additional visits to your local convenience store. 27
Keep your receipts — you should track your spending and compare prices (a little black book might be just the job or better still, avail of the FREE Money Doctor APP to track your precise spending habits. It’s available for iPhones and androids; just go to your app store, type in Money Doctor and download). 28 Shopping at discount stores should not mean that you ignore generic products in the main supermarkets — Tesco, Dunnes, SuperValu, Centra and Spar stores, Lidl and Aldi all produce their own generic goods at considerably cheaper prices than the brand names. Input all your loyalty cards on one app, Beep’n Go. It’s free and saves you having to carry around all those cards. 29 Buy direct when you can — all vegetables and fruit come from the land. If you have access to a local farm, buy directly. Apart from saving money, you will benefit from the fresh produce. 30 Grow your own— if you have a garden or a ‘plot’, try growing a few vegetables, or you could try growing your tomatoes in the house. 31 Buy in bulk — economies of scale apply, in particular to non-perishables (tins of beans) and toiletries (24 roll tissue packs). You will need to analyse your consumption to evaluate your bulk needs. 32 Don’t buy bulk unnecessarily — a half a ton of nails at rock-bottom prices might be fine if you are a carpenter. Special offers such as ‘3 for the price of 2’ might not suit your palate. 33 Use vouchers and cut-outs — you will be amazed how all those little discounts add up to big savings on your shopping bill; there is no shame in availing of these offers. You may even have a discount offer on the
back Watch of your out shopping too for ‘double receipt. coupon’ days. Look after themselves. the pennies and the pounds will look after 34 Avail of in-store discounts and special offers — simply by visiting your local store, you might come across a “loss leader” that you might have on your shopping list. 35 Shop online — this can be cheaper because impulse buys no longer apply. Delivery charges are negated by the cost of travelling to your supermarket and parking. Not to mention the latte. Check out organicsupermarket.ie, cheapeats.ie, coeliac.ie andgoodfoodireland.ie to name but four. 36 Online discount websites — before you shop, you should spend a few minutes checking out some of the discount websites for economies not just on food — dealrush.ie , groupon.ie 37 Check the date on all your purchases —no point in arriving home with out-of-date food fit for the bin. The same goes with food in stock — ensure that you consume foods that have been stored the longest and, of course, that are still safe to eat. 38 Avoid buying at the check-out and never
ask for cash-back — you are bombarded with chocolates, batteries, magazines, etc, in that last-ditch attempt to lure the money from your wallet at the check-out before you leave the shop. Resist the temptation. Receiving cash-back only increases the cost of your purchases as the cash-back is soon frittered away. 39 Bring your own bags to the store — there is a 22 cent charge for every bag bought at the check-out used to carry your purchases. You could kill two birds with the one stone by buying bio-degradable and environmentally-friendly bags. 40 Buy food with balance in mind — food and drink should be based on a balanced diet. Eating pizzas and drinking fizzy drinks seven days a week is not going to do a whole lot of good for your diet. Plan your meals to reflect this balance. 41 Avoid snacks after shopping — you have been shopping for an hour and you go to the store café for a coffee and a sit down. Go home and put on the kettle. 42 Don’t buy on an empty stomach — you often end up buying food simply because you are hungry. 43 Bring your own lunch to work — Prepare your own roll or baguette and refill your water bottle, as long as the water is fit to drink from the taps. Water will soon be scarce, so use it wisely — never run the tap washing or brushing your teeth.
CARS AND FUEL
Review your car — does it need replacing? Could you upgrade the model for efficiency purposes, eg, currently achieving 25 miles per gallon — 40 kilometres per 4.55 litres. If you were to change, buy a car doing 35 miles per gallon, you would save 40pc on fuel costs.
45 Change your car to a diesel or an electric
model — apart from the environment support through reduced carbon emissions, you could save hundreds of euro by such a change. Budget 2018 introduced the abolition of Benefit In Kind (BIK) on all fully electric company cars up to €50,000 in value. 30pc annual savings is not to be sniffed at!
Avoid company cars — in about 80pc of cases and outside of most electric cars, it does not pay to maintain a company car. Benefit in Kind (BIK) on company cars is prohibitive — 30pc of the value of the car when first purchased.
For example, a Toyota Avensis diesel version costing €25,520 means that for as long as you have this company car you will pay BIK each and every year of €7,656 or €638 per month irrespective of the falling value through depreciation. Better to take mileage expenses at €0.6348 per mile.
Buy a classic or vintage car (over 25 years old). Apart from the style, it would be cheaper to buy (and if you deem this car a company vehicle, the tax payable will be based on the value of the car at the time of purchase!) plus they are cheaper to insure while there is minimal car tax payable. 48 Reduce your dependency on fuel #1 — pool your car and share it with others going the same way or working in the same company. 49 Reduce your dependency on fuel #2 — charge your work colleagues a fuel-sharing fee should they have no car and wish you to drive them to work each day.
Reduce your dependency on fuel #3 — keep your car in top trim by regular car servicing, keeping the correct pressure in your tyres, driving under the speed limit, driving smoothly, and no unnecessary weights inside the car. 51 Check your tyres for wear — new tyres will be more efficient than the worn tyres that currently adorn your car. Over two years old, and under normal annual mileage, your car can be a death trap anyway. Review those tyres.
Shop around for fuel — take a note of your local stations and their fuel prices. Sometimes, to grab greater market share, stations will run a discount campaign to drive custom through their business. Look out for fuel discount cards and price websites such as pumps.ie 53 Reduce your dependency on cars #1 —if you are a two-car family, review the need for the second car. Work out the practicalities. Would public transport — which is improving all the time — be more appropriate?
Reduce your dependency on cars #2 — would the purchase of a bicycle be practical? Apart from the obvious exercise angle, the humble bike costs nothing to run and there are even tax breaks for employers to provide the same for their staff. 55 Think electric cars — hybrid cars are already with us, but the future car will be an allelectric model. Already capable of reaching 150kph, with much longer ranges without charging, they can only improve year-on-year. 56 Car loans are deterrents — if you are a person who changes your car every three years and just renews the existing (and expensive) car loan at that point, try saving over a three-year period so that you do not need that car loan. 57 Walk — good for the body, pocket and your dependency on cars.
58 Shop around if you must take out a car loan.
Personal contract plans are now the most popular form of borrowing. Ensure you read the small print. Some car manufacturers offer 0pc finance to buy their cars. Expect to be charged between 6.5pc (from some credit unions or if you have a really solid relationship with your bank) and 15pc depending on the institution you approach. Avoid moneylenders like the plague. 59 Use public transport — it’s great and actually much more economical than maintaining your own car.
LIFESTYLE AND MISCELLANEOUS NEEDS
Brush up the CV — keep your resume updated. You will never know the day when you may be looking for a job. The most recession-proof employments can be found in education, healthcare, environment, energy and security. If you are not in these industries, you should brush up your skills, go to night classes or online courses. Whatever you do, don’t stay in a sector that is in decline.
61 Buy cloth napkins and nappies, and stick to
your annual clothes budget — limit your spending on clothes to a budget rather than impulse buying for that special party. 62 Look after your clothes — change into casual clothing after work. Hang up everything rather than leave it on the floor or on a chair. 63 Charity clothes shops — it is no shame to buy clothes from these outlets. Firstly, you are helping the charity. Secondly, the clothes, often with designer labels, are far cheaper than buying new. 64 Use eBay to sell unwanted items — watch out for special offers throughout the year, eg 50pc off normal advertisement placements. Great for selling unwanted clothes, electrical and electronic goods, concert tickets, etc. 65 Buy generic medication — you will find brand name medicine always more expensive. Ask your doctor to prescribe generic medicine.
Go to your library — all your magazines, movies and books are there and are free. Soon you will be able to order online and just collect. The good news for authors is royalties are now being paid, albeit minuscule, when books are taken out. You now know.
Review your health club — if you enjoy membership, ensure you are getting value. Monitor your weight and fitness. Same applies to golf clubs, or any sporting or social membership. If you are not using it, cut it out.
Entertain at home — game nights, movie nights, music soirées. As entertainment outside the home becomes more expensive, the simpler life beckons, but it can also be much more fun and much more social.
Plan your annual gifts — family birthdays and Christmas presents, special friends’ gifts. You know you will have to buy, but why wait till the week before Christmas to buy — the most expensive week of the year?
70 Review your cable and telecoms — do you really need the movie channels and if you are a golf buff, are you really going to spend that much time on Sky Sports and BT Sports, let alone the Golf Channel?
Subscribe to Skype (skype.com), especially if you have to make calls from your laptop/computer to abroad. With over 310 million subscribers and 15 million online at one time, the savings are very significant (Skype to Skype calls are free while Skype to land lines are 0.017c per minute). If you have chatterbox children, block all outgoing mobile calls — the saving could be significant while you should always check your telecom bill and review the top 10 most-called and top 10 most expensive — it can be very revealing. WhatsApp is equally efficient and at no cost.
Check with ComReg’s website, callcosts. ie. Shop around also for your broadband. This site gives you all the broadband operators and various costs associated. The new European legislation on roaming charges mean it may be cheaper to phone home than send a text message (which is not covered under the new legislation).
Shop around for your electronic communication handsets — mobile phones incorporating mp3 players, internet, email, camera, video and radio are becoming cheaper and more sophisticated by the year. Some of the electronic equipment you now have is either out of date or incorporated in new gizmos. Sell it. Also use rechargeable batteries — even placing batteries in a fridge will prolong their life. 74 Social networking — use these web sites to your best advantage. Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram. Putting your name in front of millions can reap dividends for whatever your purpose. 75 Friends’ holiday homes — you may find that your friends are under financial pressure and would welcome offers at a discount to rent their foreign holiday homes. A win-win situation for them and you. 76 Do your own garden and handyman jobs around the house — you will tone your muscles, become fitter plus your garden will positively bloom — not to mention attracting the admiring glances from your neighbours. 77 Take haircuts at longer intervals — instead of every six weeks, make it 10. Better still, cut your own hair or ask a friend to do it. 78 Garage sale — rather than store, hoard or dump your prized possessions, sell them from your garage or car boot. 79 Wheelie bins — only leave out your respective bins (general refuse bins, etc, — remember there is no charge for the green bin with some firms) when they are completely full. Collection charges apply irrespective of weight if you leave the bins out. 80 Entercompetitions — scratch cards, newspaper, magazines, radio and TV — someone has to win and it could be you. If you’re not in, you can’t win.
ELECTRICITY AND HEATING BILLS
81 Review your gas/electricity utility provider
— since the successful Big Switch campaign from Bord Gais, competition is now intense. Electric Ireland are back on the field (they had to wait until 40pc of their business had migrated to other providers before being allowed back in the game) and with Airtricity, Flogas and the new kids on the block Energia, the consumer has choice.
Keep checking and install a meter ( PINERGY. IE & prepaypower.ie — the two main pre-paid electricity suppliers. ) 82 Changing your bulbs to CFLs — this will save you up to 20pc of your annual bills. They may not look as pretty, but they will put money back in your pocket. 83 Only use washing machines and dishwashers with full loads — like your dustbin, it will pay you to optimise the load.
84 Never have the immersion on with your
central heating — the immersion should only be used during the summer or when you do not need your central heating. The immersion is like a kettle — it should be switched off when you have heated the water. 85 Turn your thermostat down by 1° — you will save 10pc of your annual heating bill !
86 Use timers and night timers together with
dimmers for light switches — also for those washing loads at night. Heavy sleepers never hear the din but count the money.
Better still, install Bord Gais’ Hivehome.ie or similar technology, a system that allows you to control your heating and hot water through an APP for mobile, tablet or PC from anywhere in the world... simply brilliant.
87 Only boil water in a kettle for your immediate
needs — there’s no need to put on a full kettle of water when you only want a cup of tea for yourself. 88 Avoid peak time use as much as possible (between 5pm and 7pm) 89 Home oil — shop around through the various home heating companies looking for economies. Paying upfront for the year’s oil requirements may reap dividends. 90 Remember to switch off the heating when away — even for weekends, and especially at the onset of summer. 91 Boiler — if your boiler is more than 10 years old, you could consider replacing it with a new condenser boiler — this has more efficient use of energy and should repay installation costs within two years. 92 Insulate your house and your pipes — you will save hundreds of euro through saving your heat loss. 93 Avail of the energy grants for improving the efficiency of your home — there are a number available, check out seai.ie/grants
94 Turn off all lights in rooms not being used.
Children especially should be encouraged to turn off lights especially in their own bedrooms when they leave for school on winter mornings. Minimise lighting where you can. Think of using candles — it’s more romantic. 95 Use nightlights, especially in the bathroom. They are cheap to run. 96 Take short showers and if bathing, have all the family use the same water, but not if one of them has just returned from a filthy rugby match. 97 Ensure your fridge and freezer is full — if you cannot fill it, place jugs of water inside. It is cheaper to run a full freezer than an empty one.
98 In summer, use the clothes line to air your
washing — it’s cheaper than the expensive tumble dryer. Only use that tumble dryer off-peak and preferably at night-time rates. 99 Switch off all electronic equipment when not in use — leaving them on ‘stand-by’ mode uses 20pc of the normal output.
100 Keep in touch with the Money Doctor
— by phone at 01 278 5555, or email consulta[email protected] › Buy the Money Doctor book each year; › Book a 20-minute Money Doctor consultation — only €65 — for a once-a-year financial makeover; › Download the Money Doctor app from your app store for free to track your daily spending; › Choose the Money Doctor seminar (financially healthy for life ) for your company — an important yet entertaining hour-anda-half journey through personal finance including a Q&A; › Keep in touch with Money Doctor via Twitter (@themoneydoc); Linkedin; Google+; Pinterest and Facebook. Visit the website at independentfinancialadvice.ie
PRICES: More consumers are being pushed towards seeking cheaper options
Are you having trouble making ends meet? Do you run out of money before pay day? Are you extravagant with your spending? Do your financial circumstances require you to do completely overhaul your lifestyle and spending? Here, Money Doctor John Lowe gives 100 practical and easily implementable tips for tackling your finances. Armed with these you will have a new-found impetus to focus on your own finances and start saving money now