Time to tighten the belt?

The cost-of-living crisis is starting to bite for lots of people. In the UK we’re seeing widespread strikes, and while thankfully this hasn’t been the case in Ireland, the current high inflation rate is starting to hit people hard in their wallets. Almost 80% of the population are worried about their finances due to the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, a recent survey commissioned by Aldi has shown. Essentials like food, electricity, gas and oil all saw prices skyrocket in 2022, leaving many Irish families struggling to cope with the hikes.  So saving money will be an important element of financial planning for many families over the next year or two. Here are a couple of areas to consider if you’re looking to tighten the belt a little.

Control your energy costs

Wholesale gas prices have fallen sharply over recent months, but unfortunately, this won’t translate into lower household bills for some time yet. So the battle to reduce energy consumption at home should continue. First of all, you should look to minimise your wasted energy – don’t heat the house when there’s no one home, turn off lights and use night saver rates. Small actions make a difference, so don’t boil a full kettle for a single cup of tea. There are countless actions like these that will make a difference. Secondly shop around for the best energy rates. Either contact the various suppliers to see what they have to offer or use a comparison site to compare the various plans. Staying loyal to one supplier is often NOT rewarded, with new customers getting better deals.

Finally, there are more energy saving tips available at https://www.seai.ie/home-energy/energy-saving-tips/

Can you use Renewable Energy sources?

For some people it still sounds a bit far-fetched, but installing the likes of solar panels is now much more mainstream. While there are short-term purchase and installation costs involved, renewable energy sources offer the potential for long-term savings. There are also potentially grants available, so familiarise yourself with the SEAI’s Communities Energy Grant (CEG) scheme, which supports energy efficiency community projects through capital funding and partnerships. There is currently a network of approx. 30 companies across Ireland that will work with you to ensure that your property can reach its maximum energy-saving potential. As technology continues to advance, so too will your energy-saving options. There are many ways to increase the self-sustainability of your home, while also having a positive impact on the environment.

Mortgage costs continue to rise

Rising interest rates have become the hottest of economic topics in recent months and there is currently no sign of rates levelling off any time soon. All of those tracker mortgages that were so attractive when rates were low have definitely lost their sheen now. Particularly if your outstanding mortgage is high or the repayment term is more than a couple of years, it certainly makes sense to have a look to see if there are opportunities to save.

Consider your travel costs

The price of petrol and diesel has jumped hugely over the last year. If you are planning on changing your car soon, an Electric Vehicle certainly should be considered.  While the price of public charging has increased in line with energy price inflation, there are still some grants available for the installation of home chargers, which can be used in conjunction with lower night-time electricity tariffs. It’s also worth taking note of the greatly improved infrastructure for cycling. And with summer on the horizon, is it time to avail of the Bike to Work scheme and start getting fitter during your daily commute, while also saving money? If you don’t feel quite so athletic, the Bike to Work scheme also applies to an electric bike – this might be a better alternative than jumping in the car.

Review all regular bills

Start with reviewing the services that you’re paying for each month and check are you actually using them. Then consider if you are getting the best rates as your loyalty is often not rewarded by suppliers. So spend a bit of time going through your phone contracts, your car & house insurance, the streaming services you’re paying for (Netflix / Apple TV / Amazon Prime / Spotify etc.) and your broadband contract. Are there savings here?

We’re living again in inflationary times. Without a matching income increase, you run the risk of slowly becoming poorer in real terms. Now is the time to take actions and stop that decline.