Ireland may still love a good cuppa tea, but the capital is finally developing a culture that appreciates a good cup of coffee. There are a preponderance of chains producing so-so coffee, but there are also some great local coffee shops producing good coffee at reasonable prices.
The Bald Barista now has three cafes, the Havana Cafe in the Decent Cigar Emporium on Grafton Street is still going strong, and new and interesting coffee shops pop up all the time, including the excellent Sasha House Petite on Drury Street.
One of the best additions of the last few years is Nick's Coffee Company in Ranelagh, the Grand Canal and Carrickmines Retail Park. The espresso is divine and the price is too – at €1.50 for a double espresso it may be the best priced good coffee in Dublin.
Best: Nick's Coffee Co - €1.50
Avoid: Starbucks - €2.80
compare at www.facebook.com/NicksCoffeeCompanyLtd
Car sales have been abysmal over the first three months of the year, with the infamous 131 number plate which the motor industry lobbied for so intensely being blamed for the slump in sales. The car dealerships that survived the last few years are hoping that the 132 plate later in the year will be more popular and are desperate to do a deal, so it's a good time to ask for a discount and demand they throw in a few free extras. If you're looking for finance the picture is less rosy, as banks have racked up interest rates on personal loans in recent years, so it's worth shopping around for the right car loan as well as the right car. We compared prices on a loan of €26,000 repaid over 60 months and saved an absolute packet.
Best: Ulster Bank personal loan (interest €5,755.20)
Avoid: National Irish Bank personal loan (interest €7,242.72)
compare at www.bonkers.ie
Student credit cards
This generation of students are a windfall for cash-strapped banks and building societies – while they are low on disposable income, they are often loathe to miss out on anything. As a result many have student credit cards which attract higher interest rates than regular credit cards, and they can end up paying massive wodges of cash in interest to the banks. The worst by a country mile is the Ulster Bank student credit card, which has an sky-high APR of 34.6 per cent. The smart option would be to spend only what they can afford, but if they get their credit card with Bank of Ireland they'll pay about half as much in interest on a debt of €1,000 over 12 months.
Best: Bank of Ireland student credit card €1,181 over 12 months
Avoid: Ulster Bank student credit card €1,346
compare at www.itsyourmoney.ie
After the coldest March on record, a lot of people are going to be weeping when their eye-watering natural gas bills arrive over the coming weeks. While there is a slight improvement in the weather for April so far, the heating will be on for a while longer, so check that you're getting the best rate. Even with the "upward only" natural gas market over the past two 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 by signing up to a direct debit with Flogas.
Best: Flogas €837.02
Avoid: Bord Gais €961.27