With the news that electricity prices are to rise, despite the fact that the ESB made a profit of €525m last year, it's little wonder that the average wage at the State electricity supplier is a whopping €100,000.
Given their shenanigans it's a wonder that more people haven't changed to cheaper electricity suppliers. Both Bord Gais and Airtricity offer cheaper alternatives and the changeover process will take only a few minutes. Assuming a bill of €120 a month from the ESB, you could save €200 a year. The best deal is for existing Bord Gais customers who sign up to a direct debit, but Airtricity's offer is almost as good if you're not a Bord Gais customer, according to www.freetocompare.ie.
Best: Bord Gais €103.20
Avoid: ESB €120.00
Saving: €16.80 per month
contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or 1850 485868
Family health insurance
Many of us consider health insurance a must-have, which is disappointing given that each taxpayer already pays a significant proportion of tax towards funding Ireland's health service. In fact, given that the HSE's budget for 2010 is €14bn, Irish taxpayers already pay a whopping €4,500 each towards their health system. For two adults and two children, with cover for a semi-private room in a public hospital, the best deal is VHI First Plan Starter, which will set you back a further €1,072.
Best: VHI First Plan Starter €1,072
Avoid: Quinn Essential Starter €1,260
contact: www.vhi.ie or 1850 44 44 44
Bottle of red wine
While restaurants are working that bit harder for our business at the moment, there's still plenty of work to be done on value and service. However, customers are still regularly asked to pay the equivalent of a starter and a main course for an ordinary bottle of plonk that costs the house a pittance. Now, I'm no wine buff, but apparently La Linda Malbec 2007 is "a velvety, elegant and modern wine with a sound structure". Which is all well and good, but why it costs €26.00 in a restaurant and €10.50 in an off-licence we're not sure.
Best: www.drinkstore.ie €10.50
Avoid: Balzac Restaurant, Dublin 2 €26.00
City centre gym membership
During the boom time not only did gym membership get more popular but gyms themselves got an awful lot flashier too, especially in Dublin city centre. Gyms became "leisure centres" and were more about being "boutique" and "bespoke" than they were about being somewhere you could build up a sweat. Now that money is a bit tight however, old-style gyms are making a comeback. For a full year's membership in Dublin city centre, you can't go wrong with The Hercules Club on Lurgan St, off North King St, where membership for the year will set you back a very reasonable €325.
Best: Hercules Club Dublin €325
Avoid: Crunch Fitness, Temple Bar €730
The Irish summer is here at last, which of course means that you can expect sunny spells and scattered showers to abound for the next six weeks. It's always worthwhile having a small umbrella to hand in Ireland, whatever the season, and as they have a habit of collapsing in the wind or leaving themselves behind on buses and trains, it's worthwhile going for the cheapest option possible. While the laws of supply and demand means that some retailers adjust their prices when it rains, €uro 2 will charge you two euro -- come rain, hail or shine.
Best €uro 2 €2.00
Avoid Top Shop €23.00
contact: €uro 2 stores nationwide
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