Monday 17 December 2018

Cash-saving lifestyle changes

John Cradden

It's hard to gauge how many of us are enjoying fuller pockets as a result of the apparent recovery of the Irish economy, but there's no doubting the feel-good factor created by the myriad of money-saving tips we have learnt over the last few years.

While some of these tips involve very little work, others may involve a little in the way of small lifestyle changes, but they are hardly what you'd call drastic - just sensible.

One thing for sure is that for those of us still struggling to balance household budgets, they can make all the difference.

Plan your meals

Planning your family meals for the week can impact significantly on how much you buy during your weekly supermarket shop.

The main thing is that you can create a shopping list that you can stick to, and thereby have a tangible excuse for not picking the three-packets-of-mince-for-the-price-of-two, or the half-priced chocolate digestives, or anything that is not on your list. Buy one of those meal planner notepads with a magnet on the back that you can stick on the fridge door in case you're inclined to forget.

Switch to free banking

There remains a perception that the era of free banking is over, but that's not entirely true.

"Don't spend €120 or more per year when you can bank for free," says Simon Moynihan of Bonkers.ie, the price comparison website. "Permanent TSB has the best current account for people that can't meet deposit fee waivers, which are now up to €3,000."

Embrace low-cost ­hobbies and sports

The amount of money you can feasibly spend on certain hobbies and sports can be quite eye-watering, such as for ­annual gym membership, the golf club, nightclubs, classic cars and motorsport, horse riding, sailing and skiing. Sometimes the cheaper pastimes can be just as fulfilling and provide the ­essential social element too, such as running or hiking, reading, camping and swimming. All require little or no equipment.

Join One Big Switch for cheaper health ­insurance

One Big Switch is running a 'people-power' campaign to get cheaper health insurance for ­anyone signing up. Health insurance costs have risen 58pc since 2008 and more than 250,000 people have dropped their cover. The campaign has nearly 10,000 sign-ups but are targeting another 15,000. "The good news is that because of health insurance regulations, whatever deal they get will have to be made available to the general public, so this campaign could be a win-win for everyone," says Moynihan. "They did this earlier in the year for energy and got a good deal for those sign-ups."

Get a terrestrial/­satellite combined TV service

If you don't watch a huge amount of television, paying around €30 a month for a subscription cable or satellite TV service like Sky or UPC seems unnecessary when, for an initial outlay of about €300, you could have a combined free-to-air terrestrial and satellite service that gets you all the Irish channels and hundreds of British channels, and more besides. If you currently pay over €300 a year for a piped TV, you'll be saving money after just 12 months.

Make your own coffee

A takeaway coffee costs €3. Multiply that by five (days of the week), and then by 50 (weeks of the year, minus hols), and that'll be €750 gone in a single year. A packet of decent ground filter coffee costs about €4, which lasts at least two weeks. So four times 25 (weeks) equals… €100. A €650 a year saving.

A better energy deal

You might be getting weary of the numerous rings of your doorbell by sales reps pushing a better energy but, at the very least it might be worth looking around. Not just because winter is approaching, and therefore higher bills, but because Energia, Electric Ireland and SSE Airtricity are all offering cashback deals of up to €50 for new sign-ups.

"The cashback offers are available for their best new customer discounted tariffs and all in, the best one from Energia could save you €334 in the first year over standard rates when you include the €50 cashback," says Moynihan of Bonkers.ie.

eBay's hidden treasures

If you're looking for a bargain, try visiting fatfingers.com, a ­website that searches for misspelt items on eBay. Sellers often misspell words when putting something up for auction. ­

Misspelt items are often overlooked or ignored and auctions can end without buyers showing any interest, which means you could get the product you want at a bargain price.

Irish Independent

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