Feeling the effects of the yawning gap between the pre-Christmas and end-of-January salary cheque? Cheer up! We have some tips to stretch your last few lonely euro.
Rachel Collins, Conor Pope, Rosita Boland, Sandra O'Connell
1 Bye buy breakfast, that croissant or sausage sandwich can cost you up to €15 a week. Try cereal with milk and banana (€5 for the week) – it’s much healthier and you’ll have enough to deal with those mid-afternoon munchies, too.
2 At about €3 a pop, those lattes have to go. Make your own, drink tea, or even better – drink water. It’s free.
3 If you can, walk to work. It’s free and good for your health. Or get off the bus/train a stage earlier. Saves money and a good way to start the day.
4 Remind yourself of the health benefits of having an alcohol-free week. You’ll also save yourself a fortune.
5 Supermarkets got into a spot of bother with the farmers before Christmas for selling cheap-as-chips veg but needs must and we reckon you can buy the makings of week’s supply of vegetable soup for two people in Aldi or Lidl for less than a fiver. Simmer the veg with a stock cube, blend it and you’re good to go.
6 Drink a big glass of water before every meal – it’s free (for now). It will make you feel better, help you digest and you’ll eat less into the bargain.
7 Leave your credit cards at home, not in your wallet. Better still cover them in water and stick them in the freezer. Nothing stops impulse shopping like a frozen credit card.
8 Have a bike? Get on it. A commuter who lives in Sutton – some seven miles from Dublin – will spend about €6 on a return Dart ticket into the city or €30 for the week. Cyclists spend nothing. In the city, use Dublin Bikes. It’s €20 a year, and the number of stands is increasing all the time.
9 Challenge yourself to a spend nothing day – spending money can be a habit so resolve to get through Monday without buying coffee, chocolate, chewing gum or any of the other incidentals that you won’t be able to afford until Friday.
10 Try and avoid shops altogether this week but if you do find yourself in one and you see something you like ask yourself just one question: Do I really need this? If you can’t answer a truthful yes, walk away.
11 Switch to generic or own-brand everything – it will cost you at least 30 per cent less.
12 If you have a smartphone, download WhatsApp and Viber and don’t use the phone to make any regular calls this week.
13 Declutter your house and make money by flogging stuff on eBay. If you have never done it before it might sound complicated, but it is very simple and can be addictive.
14 You’ve bought briquettes (almost a fiver) or coal (double that), do you really need to spend €2.50 a day extra on a firelog to get it going? For less than €2 firelighters will do the same job.
15 Even better, get a paper briquette maker. Balers cost € 27 from Woodies and, if you’re an avid newspaper reader (bless you), you’ll save a fortune.
16 Bring a packed lunch to work. For the price of a sliced pan and a bit of cheese or ham you’ll save €25 a week. If you’re working in one of those places so mean they’ve started charging for teabags, bring a flask.
17 Almost half of Irish consumers have never bothered comparing prices to see if they can get utilities such as gas and electricity for less by switching service providers, according to the National Consumer Agency. Spend an hour this week shopping around – sites such as bonkers.ie, and hia.ie will be your friends.
18 Buy your books in charity shops. Better again, use your local library to borrow books, CDs and DVDs.
19 You don’t have to blow a fortune to go to a festival. Slow down the pace but keep up the fun at a walking festival. The Glen of Aherlow one (January 31st – February 2nd) offers guided walks, a festival dinner and musical entertainment, plus courtesy buses, all from just €23. aherlow.com
20 Enter competitions. There are plenty of them on the airwaves and in newspapers and magazines this month and someone has to win those hotel breaks and flights to the sun.
21 The IFI has free screenings from its archive every lunchtime, with a double bill on Saturdays. Check ifi.ie for details.
22 For a literary day out, check out Tipperariana Book Fair in Fethard’s Ballroom of Romance. With book dealers, antiquarian specialists and second hand sellers – plus authors to sign new books (boosting their value). It takes place on Sunday, February 9th and costs just €2 to attend. Tipperariana.com
23 A night at the opera is expensive, so how about a lunchtime concert instead? For the price of a sandwich, you can enjoy Music at the Museum, a series of Sunday lunchtime concerts running all year in Waterford’s Medieval Museum, with tickets on sale for just €7. What’s more, you get a 10 per cent discount on lunch at a nearby cafe, plus a museum admission ticket for just €2 on production of your concert ticket. waterfordtreasures.com
24 Farmleigh food market is on tomorrow – you can go for a walk in the park, hit the brilliant playground at the visitor’s centre across the road, then pick up some lunch at the market.
25 Astronomy Ireland’s special Daytime Sun Watch at its headquarters in Artane, Dublin 5, will give you the chance to see the sun – for free – using special filters that will reveal intricate detail on its surface. Activity has been hotting up as we approach a solar maximum and massive sunspots are visible most days. Call before heading out: 01-8470777.
26 KC Peaches basement, on Nassau Street in Dublin 2, has free jazz on Fridays and Saturdays: look out for appearances by Mike Nielsen (guitar) Cormac O’Brien (bass) and Shane Donovan (drums).
27 Empty your freezer and cupboards. You probably have a whole week’s worth of food in there.
28 Welcome spring with a free guided tour of the Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin, Free guided tours every Sunday, 12pm and 2.30pm, botanicgardens.ie
29 The Temple Bar Trad Fest in Dublin finishes up this weekend. It’s free and includes a family programme, which has workshops and sessions.
30 Dublin Flea Market is on tomorrow in Newmarket Square, Blackpitts, Dublin 8. Haggle your heart out at one of the city’s best flea markets. And even if you’re not buying, the atmosphere, entertainment and rummaging are great. dublinflea.ie.
31 Hug a tree. Get out and make the most of a slice of the country where no one sticks up “Trespassers will be prosecuted”signs, or carries shotguns. Coillte forests are one of the country’s great unsung heroes in terms of amenities. Many have permanent orienteering courses and downloadable maps ar4e available from coillteoutdoors.ie.
32 Sign your children up in the local GAA club – they often have great value sports activities
33 Dublin Mountains Partnership guided walks. Free guided walks today (Bohernabreena) and tomorrow (Cruagh, Massy and Hell Fire). dublinmountains.ie/news/
34 Museums are all free – kids especially love the programmes at IMMA and the National Gallery and of course, the Dead Zoo (Natural History Museum). See imma.ie and museum.ie.
35 The Holiday World Show is on all weekend at the RDS. You might not be able to afford those holidays just yet, but for €7 (students €3; OAPs €4; kids free; family €14) you can start planning your next one at the holiday show, with advice and ideas on more than 50 countries.
36 Roots driving you mad but can’t afford a colour? Try the Color Wow Root Cover Up, a compound that blends with your own hair colour – and really works. €38.50 from Sitstil, Drury Street, Dublin 2, but you’ll have it for ages.
37 Near Field Communication technology means cafes such as Graham O’Sullivans and the new El Gringo Burrito in St Stephen’s Green let you store up not just change on your mobile phone as well as loyalty points. Chances are you’ll have enough to keep the caffeine coming even at the end of the month.
38 Clean out your handbag and pockets – between loose change and bus refund tickets, you’ll make a few quid, and your handbag will be much nicer to boot.
39 Go vegetarian for the rest of the month – it’s not because you’re broke, it’s a life choice, okay?
40 Instead of meeting for coffee, meet your friends for a stroll – you’ll feel good and will still catch up on all the news.
41 Get to know the time your local supermarket marks down its perishable goods every day. Most do it about 5pm, but it differs. You’ll save on perfectly good food – and even some treats.
42 Have an early night and save on heating, electricity, snacking, and get through some of those Christmas books.
43 Have a pot luck dinner/movie/card night – socialising doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, and the next week will seem less like torture if you can have a bit of craic along the way.
44 Pause the pilates – take a break from your yoga, aerobics or pilates classes. But don’t abandon your new year’s fitness resolution. There are loads of good tutorials on YouTube. So push the couch out of the way, and have your own sitting-room session.
45 Absolutely have to see the latest blockbuster? Go to an Odeon cinema on Wednesday: all tickets a fiver. Do not buy popcorn!
46 Raid the children’s piggy bank. Just kidding. But seriously, have you any idea how much small change you generate every day? Put it assiduously into a jar every night. You won’t even notice it and, at the end of every month you’ll be guaranteed to find at least €30.
47 You can still pamper yourself with an almost free facial. Make a face mask with 2tbsp honey, 1tbsp lemon juice, 1tbsp olive oil, 1tbsp sugar. Blend, apply, rinse with warm water.
Or try mixing half a cucumber with 1tbsp natural yoghurt in a blender. Leave on for 15 minutes and rinse.
48 What would you do for a fiver? Sign up to fiverr.com and find out. We know one company that filmed its entire marketing campaign using the online service so check it out and see what you can get for $5. And no, there’s nothing dodgy about it.
49 Farmers’ markets make a great day out but if you’re looking to make money as much as save it, why not rent a stall and get cooking.
Many’s the Irish food business that started out that way. Among the best known seed-bed for ‘foodpreneurs’ is Midleton Farmers’ Market, in east Cork, Saturdays from 9am to 1.30pm, but they’re held all round the country. See bordbia.ie for one near you.
50 If all else fails, you can always rely on beans on toast for a budget feast.