Cash in on your New Year plans
How much could you save if you stuck to your resolutions, asks Sinead Ryan
The main problem with New Year resolutions is that we try to make too many with overly-ambitious goals. If you really want to change your life (and bank account) for the better, then small, consistent steps are the way to go.
Losing weight, getting fit and cutting out booze are great ways to improve your health and make financial savings.
This week I'm looking at making realistic resolutions which impact as much on your pocket as your body.
Dry January is a great goal, but not at the expense of hitting the bottle in February. The average household spend on booze is €28 per week, according to the CSO. This is dropping steadily and as the new minimum pricing laws come into effect this year, that figure should be further impacted.
Some 51pc of alcohol is drunk in the home, but experts say this is often under-reported. That's up from 41pc and represents the reluctance to pay mark-ups in pubs and restaurants.
Cutting out booze during the week, and enjoying a nicer tipple at the weekend is a great starter goal.
A spend of €1,456 per annum becomes €624 if you splash out on a €12 bottle of wine on Saturday and stay sober the rest of the week.
Yearly saving: €832
A 20-a-day habit costs more than ever, in your pocket and lungs. With a packet of fags priced at €11, the financial saving of quitting is €4,015 a year.
According to a Healthy Ireland study, 22pc of the population smoke an average of 13 cigarettes a day, says Chris Macey of the Irish Heart Foundation.
"Twenty minutes after you quit smoking your blood pressure and pulse return to normal. One day later, your risk of heart attack starts to fall. After three days, breathing is easier and energy levels increase. After one year, your risk of having a heart attack is cut to half that of a smoker."
But it also saves in other ways.
Colette Houton, who is claims lead with Royal London Assurance, says giving up will also cut your life insurance premium. "Once you have quit for 12 months, it's possible to apply to be reclassified as a non-smoker."
A 45-year-old smoker will pay €16,500 more in premiums for €300,000 over a 25-year term than their non-smoking counterpart, while he/she will pay over €63,500 more than a non-smoker on a 'specified serious illness' policy.
Yearly saving: €4,800-€6,500
Gym memberships see a spike in January, as we all resolve to get fitter. But many of them cost €50 or more a month to join, and unless you're actively using it, you're just wasting money.
Some people like the discipline of organised classes, but there are many ways to exercise for free (see panel, above). If you are using gyms, then work it out on a cost-per-use basis, rather than a monthly fee.
Yearly saving: €600
We spend a fortune on Indian, Chinese and pizza takeaways. After all, it's tempting to call the local rather than start into chopping and cooking after a hard day's work.
Households typically spend €32.70 per week on takeaways, with Dubliners the biggest offenders. Cutting back to once a month for a treat will save a fortune.
At the weekend, consider batch-cooking casseroles or pies and freezing portions for weekday use.
Yearly saving: €1,340
Cutting back on insurances, utilities and mobile phone contracts can save you cash in 2018.
Take a hard look at your spending, and don't be afraid to switch. Using independent sites like bonkers.ie, switcher.ie, and carphonewarehouse.ie will help.
Yearly saving: €1,000+