This wasn't an easy year for many families, and with the state of the economy it's hardly surprising that most of us will spend less this Christmas than we did last year writes Simon Moynihan from www.bonkers.ie.
Times are tight and Michael Noonan just made them tighter. In the recent budget he increased VAT, will be charging us €100 to keep the roof over our heads, and making us cough up even more to tax and drive our cars. Even lighting up the tree and keeping the house warm this Christmas will cost much more than last year, so once Christmas is over we will be counting the cost and looking at how the budget will affect us. But we can’t be expected to cut back on everything, now can we? Of course not. 2012 is going to be the year we find better deals and pay less for the stuff we need and can’t do without.
SAVING ON THE BILLS
The best places to start shaving euros off our bills are usually direct debits and the big annual bills. If there are companies taking money out of our bank accounts every month, we need to find out if we can get the same stuff for less – and the great news is that we usually can. Here’s five good ones for starters:
There are five tips to help you save money on your bills:
1. Phone & broadband
If you’re paying for line rental, calls and broadband separately, you’re paying too much. New broadband deals from companies like Digiweb and Eircom mean that for as little as €40 per month, we can have fast “Next Generation” broadband and calls to Irish and international landlines, with line rental included. Switching to one of these plans from an old DSL deal will usually save about €20 per month.
2. TV & Bundling
If you’re in a UPC area, it’s well worth looking at their bundles. They start at €60 per month for TV, phone, broadband and calls. They say they’ll save you hundreds, and they’re right. Plenty of us are paying over €60 per month for just internet and phone and then more again for TV. If you don’t want TV, they’ll do the broadband and phone for €40.
3. Mobile phones
Most of us think we need a degree in advanced maths to understand mobile phone plans, so most of us don’t shop around. We should though. There are now seven mobile operators out there and the competition to get you to switch is fierce. New operators like Tesco are offering 200 minutes and 200 texts per month for less than €20 and that includes some data for light internet use and sending pictures. If you switch you can even keep your number. A good place to research mobile plans is callcosts.ie.
4. Car insurance
Most of us pay our car insurance and tax in the first few months of the year. We can’t do much about the tax, but we can certainly try to bring down the cost of insurance. A quick way to make sure you’re not paying too much when you receive your renewal letter is to call three companies and get quotes from each. If they are able to beat your renewal quote, call your own insurance company and ask them to match or beat it. If you’ve never done this before, you should be able to save €100 or more.
5. Gas and Electricity
By now we’ve all heard that we can cut our energy bills by switching, but amazingly most of us haven’t done it yet. Gas and electricity prices have gone up by so much in the last couple of months that households can expect to pay €250 more than they did last year. So finding ways to keep those bills down is more important than ever. The good news is that we can still save plenty by switching, especially if we’ve never done it before.
Switching is easy, free and usually requires just a phone call or 10 minutes online. Even if you don’t want to switch, your current suppler probably has a better deal that you can sign up to. For example, if you’re an ESB Electric Ireland customer and you want their cheaper rates, you’ll need to call them and ask. That phone call could save you €5 per month on electricity costs and switching suppliers altogether could save you more than €10.
This article appeared in the January 2nd 2012 edition of Woman's Way