MoneyTimes - November 12, 2013

Posted by Jill Kerby on November 12 2013 @ 09:00




Like pretty much every other household of my acquaintance – I live in a working class city neighbourhood, most of our family and close friends are middle income earners (like journalists) or self-employed, that is, no hospital consultants, barristers, senior civil servants or politicians – budgeting and money-saving is a common post-Budget topic of conversation.

The cost of food, energy, healthcare and telecoms are at the top of everyone’s pantheon of complaints. (School uniforms and books are more likely now the hand-me-down, second hand and rental variety for the families I know.)   

A few of our friends who run their own businesses – mostly as small retailers or in financial services as one or two person accountancy or tax practices say they’re “managing to survive” but are not flourishing.

Like most small business people they’ve taken personal pay cuts, shed staff, slashed expenses, etc in an effort to keep up with lower sales and higher rents, rates, energy costs and local authority charges.

Every time I chat with my friends and family about how everyone is coping with the latest budget cuts or taxes, I hear the same story:

“We keep cutting back on the food budget and we drink a LOT less. We shop mostly at Lidl or Aldi and watch the local corner store for their ‘specials’ and only then do a big shop maybe every third or fourth week at Tesco/Dunnes/Supervalu.”

“We don’t go out very often at all anymore – even to the movies - special occasions only.” 

“I’m buying a lot more stuff on line – eBay and Amazon too - after checking out prices on the high street.  I wait for sales, or don’t buy anything – clothes, household stuff, books, music, unless an item is on sale. I feel guilty because I know that people really need my business.”

“We are definitely cutting back on Christmas gifts, decorations and will recycle instead.”

“The credit cards will be gone by early 2014. I estimate we’ll save €400 in annual interest payments and €60 stamp duty once we pay off the balance.”

As conversations like these show – especially the references to the big-ticket items that are hard to entirely dispose of – the low lying fruit (the government keeps going on about) that could be cut, has been cut in most middle income households.

So I’ve started asking, “How are you going to offset the latest cuts and taxes this coming year?”

Here’s the first batch of practical, post Budget 2014 decisions that my family, friends have shared in the past month:

“We have saved €25 a month by just cancelling the land-line part of our broadband package. We all use mobiles anyway and all overseas calls are now free on Skype.” (See www.skype.com)

“We just switched, via the broker you suggested, our health insurance policies to a slightly cheaper/lower benefit plan, but the corporate version, not the ordinary one. We’ll save at least €350 each and because the total cost is just under €1,000 we’ll still get full 20% tax relief on the whole amount.” (From January tax relief will apply only on gross premiums up to €1,000 for adults, €500 for children.) Contact www.healthinsurancesavings.ie for switch suggestions.

“We finally got around to comparing broadband/telephone/cable providers after a cold-caller for one of the other company’s knocked on the door. We had been with the same provider for at least three or four years and when I threatened to leave them, they upgraded us, put us on their newest plan, waived the cost of the new modem and we’ll save about €700 this year.” (Compare new offers at www.bonkers.ie or www.uswitch.ie

“The old banger [the second car] is going. Between petrol, insurance, tax, NCT and maintenance we’ll save about €1,800 - €2,000.  My bus and taxi fares will go since herself will be driving my car a lot more.”

“We’ve are going to save €200 by just switching to a new gas/electricity provider (see bonkers.ie / uswitch.ie ) and another €300 by changing the house alarm provider.”

I haven’t met anyone still working who has dropped their broadband or cable television altogether, but I do have a close friend who expects to save at least €300 a year by joining her daughter and giving up all red meat (including rashers!)

Meanwhile, any struggling homeowner with a tracker mortgage was handed a valuable gift from the ECB last week. This latest 0.25% ECB interest rate cut will save a €250,000 tracker holder up to €375 over the next year (or €13-€15 for every €100,000 owed.) Long may it last.

Finally, I just received my insurance renewal for my six year old Almera and it’s a lot more than I expected (or other women are paying) even after factoring in last December’s enactment of the EU gender directive.   

That ringing telephone in my broker’s office… is me.







1 comment(s)

  1. Jack
    Hey - this was a great read. I have always used a site called www.broadbandonlydealsireland.com to get a good deals on broadband.
Leave a comment

Subscribe to Blog