Thirteen tips that could save you hundreds of euro

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Spring has well and truly sprung now and not before time. The good news is the financial hangover caused by Christmas has, we hope, lifted and the penal cost of your summer holidays has yet to be truly felt. That is why now is the ideal time for a clear-headed, stress-free financial spring clean. While we can’t guarantee it, we reckon there is a pretty good chance you will have saved yourself hundreds of euro by the time you get to the end of this article, as long as you follow the steps we outline, that is. Fingers crossed.

1. The first thing you need to do is to work out exactly where your money is going each month so you can work out what you can do to cut back. There was a time when carrying out even the most cursory of financial audits required sifting through endless sheaves of bank statements, collecting all your receipts and looking over incomprehensible utility bills.

But times have changed and technology is now your friend. So, the first step on your road to financial redemption will see you log on to your online bank account so you can go through the last six months of your transactions. Keep an eye out for all payments or direct debits that look unfamiliar; it doesn’t matter if the payment is substantial or just €2.99 for some online service you have long since forgotten you signed up for. Cancel all the subscriptions to services that you reckon are of no value to you any more.

2. And while you are focusing on your bank account, you might want to pay some attention to your actual bank too. Repeated studies over recent years have shown that Irish consumers who switch their current account from a bad value one – and there are loads of bad value ones out there – to a good value one could save themselves about €150 a year. Despite that free money, the level of switching in the banking sector remains chronically low – less than 1 per cent by the latest count.

Banks profit from this consumer lethargy. We’re not going to lie to you, changing your bank account is a bit of hassle, although not as hard as you might think. But if you can save yourself more than 100 quid while putting manners on your bank, it is certainly worth considering doing as part of your financial spring clean.

3. There are even bigger savings to be made by switching your mortgage from one provider to another, although such a move comes with an important tracker-mortgage shaped caveat or, to put it another way, if you have a tracker, hang on to it.

By switching mortgage provider, many homeowners who have been gouged by their banks could save hundreds of euro a month. Let’s say you are on a 4.3 per cent standard variable rate and have a €250,000 mortgage. If you have at least 20 per cent equity and switch to the cheapest rate on the market and sign up for 20 years mortgage you will save about €250 a month. That is about 60 grand over the life of the loan.

While switching mortgage from one bank to another can deliver big savings – as long as you are not on a precious tracker (we can’t say that enough) – it can also be difficult, which explains why so few people bother with it. If you can find yourself a good mortgage broker and one you can trust, they will do all the hard work for you.

If you have not changed your energy supplier in the past two years, you are wasting money. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA Wire
If you have not changed your energy supplier in the past two years, you are wasting money. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA Wire

4. The next thing to do is pay more attention to your credit cards. Audit them and work out how much they are costing you every month. Chances are you have not done that for a long time. Last week the Irish League of Credit Unions published a survey which suggested that just under 60 per cent of people do not know the rate of interest their credit card provider charges while even more have no idea how and when interest is applied to their cards. It also revealed that most of us routinely use them for spontaneous purchases.



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