THE harsh reality of Budget 2011 is now kicking in for hundreds of thousands of workers as slimmer pay packages make their way into their pockets this month. It's now more important than ever to chase bargains -- and here are some of the best deals you can pick up this month.
GET UP TO €5,000
OFF A NEW CAR
If you've got your eye on a shiny new jeep or sports car, you may be able to knock a few grand off the price if you buy it over the next six months.
Last December, the Government extended its car scrappage scheme until the end of June. The amount you can get off the price of a new car is now €1,250 under the government scheme (last year, the discount was €1,500) and as car dealers are also offering their own scrappage, you could easily knock €4,000 off the price of your dream car.
With Toyota, you can get scrappage discounts (including the government discount) of between €2,350 and €4,000 on certain models, such as all Auris and Prius, all Avensis diesel, and all three- and five-door Yaris and Aygo. So, if you fancy a Toyota Avensis 2.0 D-4D Terra Saloon, you could get the sale price down to €20,995 from €24,995 with scrappage.
If it's the Prius 1.8 Hybrid Base you're after, you could knock €4,000 off the €28,125 price tag. Toyota's scrappage deal runs until the end of June. If you buy a new Toyota by the end of this month, though, you'll also qualify for three years' free servicing.
Renault's scrappage deal -- which runs until the end of this month -- will knock €3,000 off the €26,590 price tag on the Grand Scenic 1.5 dCi 110 Royale. That scrappage deal includes the government discount of €1,250 and Renault's discount of €1,750. If you also qualify for Renault's trade-in allowance, you can reduce the price by another €2,500, which means you can snap up this particular Grand Scenic for €21,090.
You can get scrappage discounts and trade-in allowances on a range of other Renault models, including the Clio and Laguna. The discounts vary across models. Unlike the government scrappage scheme, where cars must be at least 10 years old to qualify for the discount, the Renault scrappage discount is available on cars that are at least eight years old.
At Windsor Motors, you can get a €5,000 scrappage discount off the Nissan Tilda and Note.
Before you get too excited about the government scrappage scheme, make sure you qualify for it. If you're a Hells Angel who's thinking of scrapping your old motorbike so you can buy the latest Harley Davidson, you won't get any discount -- to be eligible for the government scheme, you must be both scrapping and buying a passenger car.
And if you've bought your car in Northern Ireland, you could also lose out. To qualify for the discount, your car must have been registered in Ireland for at least a year-and-a-half before it is scrapped.
A DREAM HOME AT
A BARGAIN PRICE
With house prices falling for about four years now, it could be the perfect time to buy your dream home.
If trading up, chances are your stamp duty bill is the lowest it has been in more than a decade. In last month's Budget, a flat stamp duty rate of 1 per cent was introduced for properties being sold for up to €1m. So, the stamp duty bill on a €1m home works out at about €10,000 today. If you were trading up last year and bought a home for €1m, you would have paid €61,250 in stamp duty.
House prices reached ridiculous levels during the boom years, and they could still have some way to fall. But if you get the timing right and are lucky enough to buy at the bottom of the market, you could snap up a bargain -- if you can get a bank loan or have the cash at hand that is.
A four-bed semi-detached home on Lavarna Grove in Dublin's Terenure is currently for sale for €695,000. In April 2006, Douglas Newman Good sold a similar house on nearby Parkmore Drive for €1.23m.
In May 2006, the same firm sold a two-storey period home at Belgrave Square West in Rathmines, Dublin 6 for €2.822m.
"In the last couple of months, we sold a similar property at Belgrave Road in Rathmines for a figure close to the quoting price of €1.25m," said Keith Lowe, managing director of DNG. "In the greater Dublin area, the average price of a residential property has dropped by just under 55 per cent since early autumn 2006. Property on the south side of Dublin has dropped by an average of 58 per cent."
Sherry FitzGerald is quoting a sale price of €460,000 for a four-bed semi-detached house in Templeogue, Dublin 16. "We sold a similar one in April 2007 for €675,000," said a spokeswoman for the estate agents.
If you fancy an apartment in leafy Ballsbridge, you could snap up a one-bed apartment in The Oaks complex on Herbert Park Lane for around €300,000 today -- in 2007, one-bed apartments there sold for around €550,000.
GRAB FREE HEALTH INSURANCE FOR KIDS
As private health insurance for one child can cost a couple of hundred euro a year or more, if you've four kids in your family, the health insurance bill for your children alone could easily come to €1,000.
This month, all the health insurers are offering plans where children are insured for free for a year.
So a family with four children could save €1,000 or more this year by switching their entire family -- or children -- to one of those plans. With VHI Healthcare for example, you can get free cover for children if you sign your family up to its One Plus plan by January 22. So, a family of two parents and four children would pay €1,440 for health insurance with VHI's One Plus plan -- €1,031 cheaper than the €2,471.25 bill the same family would pay for VHI's Plan B, where children are not free.
With Aviva, you can insure your children for free under its Level 1 Plan as long as you are also insured with Aviva. If your family is already insured with Aviva, all you need to do is move your children on to the Level 1 Plan by January 24 to get them insured for free.
Otherwise, you can switch to the insurer. As it normally costs €190 to insure one child under the Level 1 Plan, you'll save €760 this year if you move your four children to the Level 1 Plan -- or more if it is currently costing you more than €190 a month to insure each child.
With Quinn Healthcare, you can insure your kids for free if you sign your family up to its Essential Starter scheme by January 21.
Before switching to a plan that is free for children, make sure you are happy with the cover.
VHI's One Plus plan for example has an excess (the first part of a claim you must pay yourself) of €125 on most hospital claims. VHI's Plan B doesn't carry any such excesses.
Aviva's Level 1 Plan covers 75 per cent of the cost of a semi-private room in a private hospital. Its Level 2 Hospital Plan, which is more expensive, covers the full cost of a semi-private room in a private hospital.
Remember also to expect your health insurance bill to shoot up when you come to renew your plan -- as you will have to pay for your children once the year is up.
Sunday Indo Business