While the pre-pay market has traditionally been too expensive for anyone but hard-pressed students and those who live in constant fear of bill shock, the incredibly competitive Irish mobile phone market has meant that the pre-pay market is now worth considering if you already have a phone and your contract has expired. It's worthwhile knowing how often you use your phone and for what, as most of the phone providers offer value depending on how you use the phone. We've compared prices for someone who talks for 30 minutes and sends five text messages per day, with moderate data usage.
Best: Tesco Mobile €15 Top Up – €18.66 per month
Avoid: Postfone Basic – €197 per month
Savings: €178.34 per month
contact: Compare prices at callcosts.ie
Car sales have been abysmal since 2008, and the car industry has seen as dark a five-year period as almost any other. Things have improved somewhat since the introduction of the 132 registration plate in July, however, and there seems to be a little more willingness to invest in a new set of wheels. Good news for the industry, but finance for consumers is a less happy story, as banks have racked up interest rates on personal loans in recent years. It's well worth shopping around for a good deal on your car finance loan. We compared prices on a loan of €25,000 repaid over 48 months and saved an absolute packet.
Best: Ulster Bank Personal Loan – interest of €5,345
Avoid: Danske Bank Variable Rate Loan – interest of €6,985
contact: Compare at http://www.bonkers.ie/
It may have been a mild winter, but be warned, people – winter is coming. This winter is set to be a cold one, so make sure you're getting the best deal on your home heating. Even with the "upward-only" natural gas market over the past three years, there are a few deals to be had. If you're a Bord Gais customer and you spend around the national average on your natural gas and you pay in cash, you could save yourself over 100 quid by signing up to a direct debit with Flogas.
Best: Flogas €852.19
Avoid: Bord Gais €979.69
While you're on the phone, why not save yourself some money on your electricity bill? Rising energy prices across the board internationally have masked the improvements that the electricity markets have seen with increased competition over the past few years, but there's little doubt that by shopping around you can save a bundle. The best prices are to be had from non-traditional suppliers, though if you want the best deals, stay away from pre-pay providers.
Best: Flogas €1,068.72
Avoid: Pre-pay Power €1,333.17
We've recommended them before, but we're a big fan of the Blade Saver. With the average cost of men's brand-name razor blades costing as much as €4 each (you know the ones we mean), the cost of a clean-shaven look can rack up quickly. The average premium-price disposable razor blade lasts for up to six shaves, so a particularly hirsute gent can spend upwards of €240 a year on blades. Thankfully, an Irish company is offering an ingenious tool that sharpens blades – a patented tool that can re-sharpen and clean any make or model of razor blade. We've used the product ourselves and we know it works.
Best: Blade Saver for €16.50 + €24 worth of blades
Avoid: €240 worth of blades – money down the drain
contact: Buy at http://www.thebladesaver.com