THE squeeze is on -- and has been for a while now as far as family incomes are concerned.
A series of hikes and cutbacks that kick in as we enter the new year will press hard on finances.
But here are some ways a family can save €1,000 a year -- or even more.
A typical family will pay €260 next year in bank charges alone for two adults with current accounts.
Moves by AIB, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank to introduce and increase charges and fees for day-to-day banking are set to suck close to €270m out of the finances of households.
Most think they are paying half of what they are actually spending on charges and fees imposed by their bank.
Better value can be had by switching to either KBC Bank or Permanent TSB.
Permanent TSB offers fee-free banking if €1,500 is lodged to the account every month.
KBC Bank has a €6 quarterly charge, but additional transaction charges can be be avoided if the account balance stays above €2,000.
Scour the market for better value. This you can do by entering the type of plan you have at the moment on the website of the Health Insurance Authority (www.hia.ie), or through a broker.
Families that have been on the same health plan for two or three years need to look hard to see if they can get better value. The chances are the plan has shot up in price.
Some plans have jumped by 150pc in cost in the past four years. The likelihood is that your insurer will have launched lower-cost equivalents, but under a different product name.
Save on insurance
You can get a discount on your home and motor insurance bill by getting your home and motor insurance from the same provider. Other ways to save are to accept a higher excess -- the amount you have to pay before you can make a claim.
Claim your tax reliefs
Tax relief is available for most medical expenses. Download form Med 1 from the Revenue website. You will get back 20pc of your expenses, as long as you have not already been reimbursed by a medical insurer.
Homeowners are losing up to €254 a year by not switching electricity and gas supplier, price comparison service uSwitch has found.
It said the average household was spending €1,179 on electricity by using ESB/Electric Ireland's standard domestic rate.
But by switching over to Airticity's Home Electricity Saver, the annual cost drops to €1,049.
This is a one-year contract, and the householder will have to sign up for a direct debit. Over a year, the savings on electricity amount to €130.
Moving gas supplier from Bord Gais's standard rate to Flogas's Direct Debit Discount will mean an annual saving of €124.
Householders can also save on energy by taking a few simple steps such as installing an energy monitor, defrosting the fridge and using lids when cooking. Switch off stereos and TVs that are on standby, and only use a washing machine when there is a full load.
Saving: Up to €100
Petrol and diesel prices can differ by as much as five cent per litre locally, so it's worth shopping around for the cheapest outlets.
If you leave heavy items such as golf clubs in the boot, the car has to work harder and you use more fuel. So take them out if they're not in regular use.
How you drive really affects your fuel consumption. The harder you accelerate and brake, the more fuel you burn.