Here’s how to tackle that financial hangover and make lasting changes to how you manage your money in 2022.
- 1. Face the financial music
Be honest about how much you’re spending and leave no stone unturned. It’s a great way to focus on your spending habits and highlight any bad ones.
Start by listing out all your monthly outgoings, such as
- household bills
- shopping receipts
- mortgage or rent payments
- credit card & loan repayments
- travel costs
- entertainment subscriptions
- insurances like home, car or mobile
- other regular costs, like going out
Next, work out what money you have coming in, and if there’s a shortfall, it could be time to take action.
There are many budget apps and online tools like Spending Tracker to help you check your spending. Newer digital banks such as N26 have instant statements via their app, so it’s simple to keep track of your spending in real-time.
Once you’ve got a clearer picture of your income and outgoings, you can ring in the changes with more of our money-saving tips.
- 2. Tackle your debts
Before putting money aside for savings, it makes sense to clear your debts.
Using a credit card or taking out a loan can be a sensible financial decision, but interest rates can often add eye-watering sums to existing debt if you don’t repay on time or in full.
Prioritise clearance of any loans, credit, or store cards that are costing you the most first. If you’re borrowing on any 0% deals, it’s less urgent, but aim to clear before they start attracting interest charges.
Take action to stop debt spiraling
- Transfer your balances: It’s so easy to overspend, especially when you’re shopping online, but it’s crucial to have a plan to pay back what you owe. Interest charges add to your debts, so check if you could save by taking out a balance transfer credit card and give yourself extra time to repay what you owe.
- Consolidate any debts: Outstanding store cards debts, car finance, or BNPL credit can quickly rack up interest if you don’t repay in time. What starts as a good deal can rapidly turn into bad debt, so consider transferring all your balances to one loan or balance transfer card. But, be alert for any extra set-up fees or charges.
- Reduce interest: If you’re on a standard variable rate mortgage, chances are you’re paying more than you need to.Talk to your mortgage provider or broker about changing to a fixed-rate deal and make the most of lower interest rates while they’re still here.
- 3. Cut household bills
Switch and ditch your expensive providers.
You can save hundreds of euros by simply changing your utility suppliers, bundling up services, or seeking cheaper cover.
- Check fuel costs: It takes a sizeable bite from any household budget, so look at ways you can reduce energy use at home or cut your costs by switching your supplier. You can save up to €475 by simply switching to a different gas & electricity tariff.
- Compare cover: Most of us pay for home and car cover, but insurance is often a forgotten expense. Insurers take advantage of our financial amnesia and repay loyalty by auto-renewing with hiked premiums. Use comparison sites to search and switch to a better value insurer.
- Bundle broadband & TV: Once a luxury, now a lifeline. It normally works out cheaper to bundle, so check you’ve got the best broadband & TV deal where you live with an online broadband checker.
- 4. Review what’s due to you
It’s estimated there are millions of euros in unclaimed tax benefits and allowances in Ireland, so make sure you get your dues.
You can usually sort out the paperwork online now, so no more long phone waits or endless form filling.
- Remote Working Relief: If you’ve been working from home this year, make sure you claim Remote Working Relief or ask your employer about the remote working allowance.
- Tax credits: Whether you’re an employee or self-employed you may be entitled to personal tax credits, tax reliefs or exemptions. Find out how to claim at revenue.ie.
- Allowances & supplements: If you don’t have enough to meet the needs of your family you may be eligible for Supplementary Welfare Allowance, fuel allowance, housing & heating supplements.
- 5. Streamline your subs
Spending more time at home has caused a surge in signups to TV streaming and other digital entertainment services.
First, check how much you’re spending on each subscription and review how often you watch, listen or play each app to see if they’re worth paying for. Do the same for any memberships.
Next, stop the subscriptions you don’t use that often and fine comb your bank statements to check you’re not paying for any Direct Debits or standing orders that should’ve finished long ago.
- Streaming movie & TV apps
- Music apps
- Gaming apps
- Fitness apps
- Newspaper & magazines
- Gym membership
- Dining out memberships
- Trade or professional memberships
- 6. Boost your credit rating
The higher your credit rating, the better your chances of getting a mortgage, car finance, or loan. You’ll be offered lower interest rates too.
Check your credit report at the Central Credit Register to find your credit rating. The report can also help you spot any problems and head off future issues.
Boost your credit rating with these tips
- Repay loans or credit on time and in full every month
- Minimise your outstanding credit balances
- Clear any high-interest loans or cards if possible
Beware! Applying for too many financial products could bring your credit rating down, so use a broker when applying for a mortgage or finance to reduce the number of separate credit applications.
- 7. Spend wisely
- Prioritise purchases: It’s so tempting to splash the cash when the sales hit or you get a little windfall, but before you whip out that card, it’s best to pay your bills or other essentials first.
- Spread spending costs: If you’ve a large purchase to make or know your cash flow will be hit hard for a couple of months, consider a 0% purchase card to spread the cost interest-free.
- Shop around: Whether you’re making that big-ticket purchase or a small treat, never grab the first price you see. Always price match and take a little extra time to find the best price.
- Do it yourself: Simple lifestyle changes can make big differences to your weekly outlay. Make a packed lunch instead of buying lunch, walk or cycle to work, and recycle or repurpose as much as possible.