Pirates! The gas and electricity companies are lurking over the horizon.
They are waiting for that moment. The moment when you think: "Phew! I think we might be solvent again after Christmas." Then they'll raise the black flag and fire off the mother of all bills. The one for using the heater and tumbledryer all winter. It's coming and they're after all of your spare money. Watch out for bundles from the same company... they're no good. We've totted up prices for someone using €150 per month in gas with Bord Gais and the same for electricity with whatever the ESB is called this week. Bills already paid by direct debit.
Best: Flogas Direct Debit -- €1,555.53 per year
Avoid: Bord Gais Standard -- €1,800
Saving: €244.47 per year
contact: www.flogasnaturalgas.ie or 1850 306 800
Best: Airtricity eBill, direct debit (two-year contract) -- €1,516.84
Avoid: Electric Ireland standard -- €1,800 per year
contact: www.airtricity.com or 1850 81 81 10
Combined savings €527.69
So, you've just spent a gazillion euro on your new iPad and made the mistake of buying accessories from Apple, too. The bills haven't ended yet, as it's damn all use without mobile broadband. This is going to hurt someone -- guess who? Either you go for the 30-day pass with O2 or Vodafone, which has no big upfront payment; or take the 3 mobile deal, where you cough up €39 upfront but pay cheaper monthly bills. The 3 deal is way cheaper and gives you the same speed -- but you only get 1gb worth of data every month, compared with 5gb at O2 and Vodafone. Mind you, 5gb is the equivalent of 50,000 webpages.
Best: 3 Broadband light -- €158.88 per year
Avoid: Vodafone iPad 30-day Plan -- €240
contact: www.three.ie or local stores
At the risk of provoking a blizzard and days of traffic chaos and broken pipes, it looks as if you'll have to go abroad to get some snow this year. Swaddle yourself up in puffa jackets and slap on the zinc oxide before heading for the slopes. But between the helicopters, the doctors and that sort of thing, it costs a lot of money if you break your leg on a mountain. Insurance is essential if you insist on throwing yourself down mountains like Jean Claude Killy after a few gluweins. Annual worldwide travel cover including winter sports for an adult.
Best: Multitrip.com -- €32.99
Avoid: VHI -- €75
contact: www.multitrip.com or 0818 44 44 44
Inflation is running at 2.5 per cent this year, according to the latest figures from the CSO. This means that any money you have on deposit at a rate lower than 2.5 per cent is getting walloped. There aren't too many savings accounts beating the rate. Most demand or reef-it-out quick accounts pay 0.01 per cent in interest. We're comparing €10,000 on deposit for a 12-month term. AIB's account can only be opened over the phone.
Best: AIB Direct deposit/KBC 12-month fixed -- 4.1 per cent
Avoid: Rabodirect 12 month -- 1.25 per cent
Saving: €285 in interest
contact: AIB 1850 44 22 22 or www.kbc.ie
Sunday Indo Business