Monday 19 March 2018

Taking some simple steps to improve your finances this year will reap large rewards

'The start of the new year is a perfect time to get to grips with money issues.'
'The start of the new year is a perfect time to get to grips with money issues.'
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

We can all do more to improve our financial situation. This is especially the case as only a small number of consumers expect to be better off this year. The findings come despite a pick-up in the economy, some income tax and universal social charge changes kicking in, and rising household income levels.

The survey found that fewer than three in 10 consumers expect an uplift in their finances in 2018. Half of those surveyed are concerned they will not be able to save anything this year, according to the research commissioned by price-comparison site

The start of the new year is a perfect time to get to grips with money issues. As well as heralding a new calendar year, it can mean a new start for your finances.

Here are five easy ways to boost your household income for 2018.

For those with a variable-rate mortgage now is a good time to get a better deal. Some 125,000 mortgage holders could lower their variable payments by opting for LTV (loan-to-value) mortgage rates at Bank of Ireland, KBC and Permanent TSB.

LTV rates are based on the value of the home relative to what is owed on it. Customers can get reductions of up to 0.8pc on the interest rate. They just have to apply to the bank to have a valuation done and seek a managed variable rate, or an LTV rate.

Claiming tax refunds is something we are getting better at, but we are still not claiming everything that is owed to us. The average household is estimated to be missing out on around €880 a year in tax refunds because too many people are failing to claim tax refunds and avail of tax breaks. We need to get into a habit every year of claiming what due to us in tax refunds. After all, it is our money.

More of us need to switch providers. The best deals tend to be reserved for switchers. If you have moved provider for motor cover, you should also see if you can get a deal on home insurance, health insurance, mortgage protection, broadband and on utilities.

Also worth doing at some stage this year is reviewing your pension. Dig out your annual benefit statement to see how much you are due to get when you retire. You may need to contribute more. Start a pension if you do not have one.

Tackle your debts. This is especially the case if you have credit card debts. It is little use having savings if you are also paying off credit card debt at a rate of 22pc.

According to Central Bank figures more than one-third of the credit cards out there had balances of between 75 and 100pc of their limits. If you have too much debt weighing on your credit card, try to tackle it this year.

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