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Dan White: Putting cash back in your pocket

Coupons and special offers are back in a big way with more than half of all shoppers now using them -- and there are many other ways of saving a stack of euro...

1. Haggle, haggle, haggle

With retailers desperate for cash don't be afraid to haggle.

Back in the noughties when we had more cash than sense, it was considered to be bad manners to ask for a discount.

Not any more. If you are handing over your hard-earned dosh then your are the one doing the retailer a favour. Don't be shy about letting them know this. If one retailer won't play ball just find a competitor who will.

2. Always shop around for the best value

I'm still amazed at how many people still stick with their existing electricity, gas, mobile phone, credit card or insurance provider.

Such inertia can end up costing you serious money. In some cases you can save an absolute fortune by switching to a cheaper provider.

With the internet, comparing prices has never been easier. So no more excuses and make the switch today.

3. Buy a low-emission, diesel-engined car

For anyone thinking of changing their car this is an absolute no-brainer.

Ever since the changes in the road tax and VRT systems in 2008 the savings from buying a low-emission, diesel-engined car have been enormous.

The road tax for cars in the lowest band is just €104 a year while the VRT rate is only 14pc, a fraction of what it is for higher-emission, petrol-engined models.

If you have a banger that is more than ten years old the Government will give you a VRT rebate of up to €1,500 if you trade it in against a low-emission new car this year.

4. Pay down your debts

With prices falling, the real value of people's debts is increasing. In other words, even if the nominal amount you owe remains unchanged, the rising value of money means that you will end up owing more in purchasing power terms.

This means that anyone who can afford to repay some or all of their debts should do so as soon as possible.

5. Claim all of your tax reliefs and credits

With taxes having gone up it is more important than ever that people make sure that they do claim the tax breaks to which they are still entitled.

These include tax relief on trade union dues, bin charges, rent, medical expenses as well as the single parent and home carer's tax credits.

6. Get your employer to pay out for your bus or rail ticket to work

If your employer pays for your bus, Luas, Dart or rail ticket to work then you won't have to pay benefit-in-kind on the money. In other words, the money is effectively tax-free.

The payments are is also exempt from PRSI. For someone paying the top rate of tax that works out at a saving of almost 50pc.

7. Tear up your credit cards

This isn't the first time I've given this piece of advice but with everyone now watching their pennies, credit card interest rates of up to 18pc make even less sense now than they did back in the Celtic Tiger era.

If you have built up a large unpaid balance borrow the money from your credit union, which will charge you 12 pc or less, and pay off your credit card bill once and for all.

8. Treat yourself to (economical) luxuries

Just because you're cutting back on your spending is no excuse not to treat yourself to an occasional luxury. All work and saving and no play makes for a very dull life. Just be sure to keep an eye on the pennies when you do splash out.

Instead of spending €100 on a restaurant meal for two with wine why not head off for a night at the cinema instead for a fifth of the cost? By spending clever you can still enjoy yourself without splashing out a fortune.