Lifestyle

Wednesday 1 October 2014

How to save up to €7,000 a year without scrimping

It's possible to live well on a tight budget, says Aideen Sheehan

Could you save nearly €7,000 a year without scrimping? That's what one savvy family has managed to do.

From servicing their own cars to buying oranges at half price, they've managed to shave thousands off their annual outgoings and say it hasn't impacted on their quality of life.

Corkman James O'Donovan now wants to help others and has written a book giving his tips.

Further details can be found on How to Save 5000: This Year and Every Year!, Oaktree Press €8.99, ePub/Kindle €2.99

Groceries

One of the biggest household expenses after mortgage or rent, but this is where big savings can be made with James estimating he's saved €2,331 a year by careful shopping.

Check supermarket websites for special offers in advance so you can target your purchases and buy a lot of own-brand products.

For example a tin of own-brand tomatoes typically costs 50c compared to €1 for a branded tin, saving you €100 a year if you go through two tins a week.

Bring your own sandwiches, coffee and snacks to work to save over €1,000 a year instead of buying pricey lunches and takeaway drinks.

For non-perishable items such as dishwasher tablets and washing powder that you will definitely use, watch out for two for one offers.

James said his family gets through 1,095 oranges a year because they always squeeze fresh juice for breakfast.

He was paying 55c per orange in one supermarket but switched to a different store where he gets them for 27c each, so he now saves €306 a year.

Potential savings: €2,000

Car

Servicing your car yourself could save you €150 per car per year.

James said that basics such as changing wiper blades, light bulbs and the air filter are simple for anyone who can already change a home lightbulb or vacuum bag.

Changing the oil and filter, spark plugs etc is a step up but is also quite easy and there's lot of helpful online videos to walk you through it.

Tyres – keep car tyres inflated to correct pressure, this will save you €100 a year in lower fuel costs and also make you safer on the road.

Potential savings: €250 per car.

Electricity/gas

Shop around for the cheapest deal and set a reminder in your phone for when that expires, usually after a year, as you'll then be moved onto a more expensive standard tariff making it time to shop around again.

Doing this can save you around €100 a year on electricity and up to €150 on gas.

Insulation, zoned heating and regular boiler servicing can all help reduce bills.

Dry clothes outdoors or on clothes horses wherever possible.

Install energy- saving lightbulbs to cut your lighting bill by 80pc or €200 a year.

Potential savings: €100 a year on electricity, €150 on gas by switching, extra for energy-saving measures.

Phone/broadband

Ditch your landline if you don't use it regularly or look for a better package with broadband/TV.

Set your mobile to ring for 30 seconds instead of the usual 15, so you have time to answer calls and don't have to waste money checking voicemails and ringing people back.

Don't buy mobile phone insurance as it's expensive.

Potential savings: €300 a year.

TV

Consider getting a satellite/aerial combination that allows you get over 100 free-to-air Irish and British channels without ongoing monthly bills for a subscription service.

Potential savings: €300+ a year.

Rubbish collection

If you live in an estate, split one bin account between you and your neighbour to reduce your refuse bill by 50pc.

Potential savings: €150 a year.

Rechargeable batteries

If you have children with battery-guzzling toys, buy a top-quality battery recharger and good quality rechargeable batteries with a high mAH rating.

Potential savings: €150 a year compared to buying disposable batteries.

Credit Card

Get rid of it or share one card with your partner to avoid stamp duty of €30 a year on each card.

Potential savings: €30 a year plus extra for interest

Insurance

Get at least three quotes for each policy.

If your car is worth less than €1,000, it's probably not worth getting comprehensive insurance; third-party fire and theft will do. Check your rebuilding costs each year on the chartered surveyors website www.scsi.ie.

Rebuilding costs have come down in recent years, meaning you can reduce the amount you insure your home for. Home insurance can be cheaper if you have security locks or an alarm.

Mortgage protection insurers sometimes offer introductory discounts of up to 70pc in year one, so you can take these and switch to another provider offering a discount in year two.

Potential savings: €400 a year.

Air travel

Delete your browsing history from your computer before booking a flight so the airline website doesn't register you've previously been looking for particular flights, as they may bump up prices.

Electronic equipment

Buy appliances with the highest energy rating you can find as they will save you money in the long run as energy prices rise.

Fitness

Combine exercise with your daily commute – for example, cycle to work frequently or get the bus in and run home instead of spending on gym fees and travel costs. Potential savings: €400+ a year.

Irish Independent

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