How we saved this family over €2,200 on their bills
Michael and Suzan O'Driscoll from Ovens in Co Cork badly want to save a few bob.
Both are in steady jobs, Michael is a product manager with an electronics company and Suzan is a secondary school teacher. However, the couple have to make their money stretch further thanks to the cutbacks and tax hikes of the last six austerity budgets.
They have to put food on the table for their two young children – six-month-old Grace and four-year-old Christian. They also have the weight of two mortgages on their shoulders – one for their home in Cork and another for a holiday home in Killarney, Co Kerry.
The Sunday Independent teamed up with the online insurance brokers, LABrokers.ie to find out if the O'Driscolls could save any of their hard-earned cash. Together, we found out that the family could save almost €2,200 over the next year.
Here are some ways the O'Driscolls could save that money.
The O'Driscolls are paying €914 to insure their two properties – €350 for their four-bed detached home in Cork and €564 for their holiday home in Killarney.
Although their Cork home is alarmed (which means they qualify for an alarm discount), their holiday home isn't.
All the same, John Geraghty, managing director of LABrokers.ie, found a way to slash €297 off the cost of the family's holiday home insurance this year.
"Aon Insurance should be able to offer the couple comparable cover for the holiday home for €266.85 this year," said Geraghty.
Geraghty also found a cheaper home insurance policy for the family's main home.
County Hooper Dolan Insurances in Newtownmountkennedy, Co Wicklow should be able to offer cover with Wrightway Zurich for €331.75 this year – that's €18.25 less, according to Geraghty.
The quotes assume there are security locks fitted to doors and windows on both houses.
Suzan drives a 1.5 litre petrol Hyundai Matrix 2004. Michael drives a 2.2 litre diesel Hyundai Sante Fe 2006. Both have a clean driving record. Suzan currently pays €407 a year for her car insurance while Michael pays €380.
If the couple opt for third-party, fire and theft insurance, they could save themselves €295 this year, according to Geraghty.
Suzan could save €189 if she took out a basic No Nonsense third-party, fire and theft policy with FBD, according to Geraghty.
The policy, which costs €218.27, doesn't include frills such as windscreen or breakdown cover, or cover to allow you drive other cars.
Geraghty tracked down a policy which could save Michael €106 on his car insurance this year. County Hooper Dolan Insurances in Newtownmountkennedy, Co Wicklow should be able to offer Michael a third-party, fire and theft policy with Wrightway Zurich for €273.94 this year, according to Geraghty.
Third-party, fire and theft covers you for any damage you cause to another car if you cause an accident – as well as any damage caused to your car by fire and theft. A comprehensive policy covers you for third-party fire and theft cover plus damage to your own car, no matter who is to blame.
If the O'Driscolls want to stick with comprehensive insurance, the most they could expect to save on their car insurance this year is €58, according to Geraghty.
The O'Driscolls are currently paying €14.58 a month in mortgage protection insurance on their main mortgage and €7.11 a month in mortgage protection insurance on a top-up mortgage.
To save money, Geraghty recommended the couple take out one mortgage protection insurance policy to cover the main mortgage and the top-up mortgage. Caledonian Life could offer a policy for €15.80 a month to cover both loans – as long as the couple meet certain underwriting criteria.
This would save them €71 this year – or €777 over the remaining 11 years of their mortgage.
The O'Driscolls paid a whopping €1,464 to Bord Gais for their gas bills in 2012. If they switch to Flogas, they could save €194.65 this year under its Direct Debit Discount Plan, according to the personal finance website, bonkers.ie.
This should reduce their gas bill to €1,269 this year – as long as they don't use more gas than they did last year.
The O'Driscolls coughed up €1,180 to Electric Ireland to cover their electricity last year. But if the O'Driscolls moved to Airtricity's Home Electricity Saver bill, they can expect to save €124.45 on their electricity bills this year, according to bonkers.ie.
This would reduce their electricity bills to €1,055.55 this year – as long as they don't use more electricity than they did last year.
Phone and broadband
Save up to €304
The O'Driscolls have a broadband and home phone package with Vodafone, which costs between €50 and €70 a month, depending on the amount of mobile phone calls made from the landline each month.
This means they're paying as much as €840 a year for their phone and broadband.
The family could save up to €304 a year if they opt for Digiweb's 8Mb NGB Lite & Talk Anytime package, which costs €44.68 a month, according to bonkers.ie. This package includes up to 1,500 minutes a month of free calls to Irish landlines at any time – as well as 30 minutes a month of free calls to mobiles in Ireland and Britain.
So as long as the family keep within their phone call allowances and don't need faster broadband than 8Mb (a normal broadband speed), they should be able to keep their monthly bill to €44.68 – or €536 a year.
The O'Driscolls paid €687.85 for their Sky TV over the last year. Although their bills during the summer are about €59 a month, they climb as high as €86 a month in December and January when the family watch a lot of movies.
If the family opt for Sky's Entertainment package, which includes 38 channels, they could reduce their monthly bills to €27 a month – or €324 a year. The Entertainment package is half the price the O'Driscolls are already paying for their digital TV – but it doesn't include premium packages such as Sky Movies.
Michael has a company phone and Suzan spends about €40 a month on her mobile – an O2 pay-as-you-go phone.
If Suzan signed up to a pay-monthly mobile phone plan, she could halve her monthly mobile phone bill.
Simon Moynihan, communications director of bonkers.ie, recommended Tesco Mobile's €20 Sim Only plan, which costs €20 a month, and includes 300 minutes of calls and 300 texts to any mobile phone network. "This is as much calls, texts and data as most people would need," said Moynihan.
The O'Driscolls spend between €100 and €200 on their weekly shopping – with nappies being one of the most expensive things they buy. Although they try to shop around, their main port of call is Dunnes Stores and Tesco.
The family could easily save a few hundred euro on nappies a year if they consistently bought their nappies in Lidl instead of one the main supermarkets.
A 50-pack of Toujours Maxi 4 nappies costs €6.09 in Lidl – Tesco meanwhile charges €12.89 for a 50-pack of Pampers Active Fit Midi nappies.
If little Grace needs six nappies a day, she'll get through about 2,190 nappies a year. The family could save €299 a year by buying these nappies in Lidl instead of Tesco, based on a comparison of the price of the Toujours Maxi nappies in Lidl and the Pampers Active Fit in Tesco.