Saturday 17 February 2018

The New Year is shaping up to be a mixed bag of financial fortunes

Five ways to spruce up your finances in the New Year 

The New Year is shaping up to be a mixed bag of financial fortunes. There are more jobs and higher wages on the cards, according to various economists. However, the New Year is also likely to be pricier for many consumers due to soaring costs in some areas, a series of price hikes in others - and the threat of more to come. So even if you're feeling more upbeat about your money, it is important to stay on top of your finances - and to do what you can to make the most of any extra money you might have. Here are five ways to spruce up your finances in the New Year.

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This is how you can save thousands on the cost of your commute 

Commuters could knock thousands of euro a year off the cost of their travel to work by leaving their car at home and taking up tax breaks and other deals available on public transport. With traffic returning to boom-time levels and rising house prices pushing more house buyers into the commuter belt, it is time to seriously consider taking these steps if you take the bus or train to work. Otherwise, your daily commute will soon hit your pocket even harder.

Your last-minute lesson on how to cut big back-to-school bills 

With only a week to go before schools around the country start to reopen after the summer break, many parents are facing bills of almost €2,000 to put one child through school for the year. A new survey by has found that parents can expect to pay €1,834 to put a child through secondary school. That bill includes the cost of uniform, sports gear and footwear; school books and classroom resources; the voluntary contribution; technology support; school trips; and fundraising. The typical bill for parents of primary school children came to €716.

Careful research of the most suitable career options can pay off in later life. Stock image

Pick a well-paid career to start off on the best financial foot 

Jobs in accountancy, retail management, computer programming, law and science are amongst some of the best paid in the country - and so amongst the careers which should be seriously considered by the Leaving Cert students who receive their results this Wednesday. Although these 56,000 students must wait until August 21 to find out if they have enough points to secure entry to various courses, the results received this week should give them a good idea of the career choices open to them.

Bridging the gender pay gap

Your Money: Five ways women can close the gender pay gap 

It could take another 15 years for Irish women to get paid the same as Irish men for the same job - because of gender inequality in the workplace, according to a recent report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). It found, on average, Irish women earn 15pc less than men each year. So, with women in the workplace - or those just starting out in their careers - facing such a wait before the gender pay gap is bridged, what can they do to get fairer pay in the meantime? Here are five ways you can help close the gap:

Your Money: Six scams to be on the alert for in 2017 

Car insurance fraud is costing insurers hundreds of millions of euro a year - and pushing up the cost of motor insurance for drivers. With car insurance premiums already soaring in recent years, such fraud is an extra financial headache which motorists could do without. Fraud has already pushed up the cost of a typical car insurance policy by about €50, according to estimates from the insurance industry - and it may be driving up the cost of a policy by even more than that, according to Robert Smyth, fraud manager with Aviva.

James Keogh, managing director of Rathwood, has overseen the transformation of the business. Photo: Rachael Comiskey

All aboard: runaway success of Santa train brings Christmas cheer 

Christmas is the last thing you'd expect parents to have on their minds as their children head back to school in September. However, within an hour of the tickets for this year's Rathwood Santa train going up for sale, 22,500 had been sold, according to James Keogh, managing director of Rathwood. They went up for sale on September 1. By late October, Rathwood's Santa train was already sold out for the weekends and nights before Christmas.

Should you hit a brick wall when tracing a pension, contact the Pensions Authority as it keeps a register of company pension schemes (Stock picture)

How to trace a lost or forgotten pension 

You could be losing out on tens of thousands - perhaps hundreds of thousands - of euro by forgetting about or failing to track down a pension taken out in your youth. Many Irish people are losing out on pensions taken out in their early career - particularly if they have worked overseas or have moved jobs a number of times. It is well worth chasing up any pension pots from previous jobs, however, according to James Skehan, head of pensions with New Ireland.

Should you be uncomfortable with investment risk, however, an annuity is probably your best bet (Stock picture)

Your Pension: Don't lose out on thousands by buying the wrong pension 

Choosing the wrong pension for your retirement could see you lose out on several thousand euro - or more - in your golden years. This is because annuities - a pension which can be bought with the money in your pension pot when you retire - can offer very poor value for money. Many people are shocked at the tiny annual pension they can buy, should they opt for an annuity. An annuity might only pay you a pension of a thousand euro a year - or less, depending on the size of your pension pot.

Whether you're a stay-at-home mum or working woman with or without children, do what you can to boost your pension (Stock picture)

Women: we need to talk about your retirement 

Many women won't be able to afford the cost of a weekly grocery shop for one on the private pension they get when they retire. This is because the average Irish woman is only saving enough to get a payout of €40 a week from their private pension, according to research conducted by Standard Life last June. Most of us would struggle to cover the cost of the weekly groceries - or a meal out - with that money. That €40 a week adds up to about €2,000 a year. Including the full State pension of €12,392 a year (the rate that applies from next March) would bring a typical working woman's...

By Tom Halliday

Were we all better off in the year of the bank guarantee? 

It's just over eight years since the €440bn bank bailout - and while the Irish banks are now back making money, many people are still worse off than they were in the year of the bank guarantee. Indeed most of us will still be hundreds (if not, thousands) of euros worse off under Budget 2017 than we were in 2008 - the year that Irish taxpayers guaranteed all loans and deposits in the country's banks and building societies - an analysis by The Sunday Independent has found. The Irish banks, on the other hand, are back in profit.