This article was written in 2012 and may contain out of date information. Browse more recent articles.
We all think of the run up to Christmas as a time to splurge, but it can also be a time to get our finances in order for the New Year. There are plenty of ways to save money and manage our budgets that don’t take too much time or effort. We take a quick look at five ways that you can cut your household spend and improve your budget in the New Year.
Paying for your energy like you pay for your TV
As sure as Christmas comes in December, shock energy bills come in January. But you don’t have to put up with bill-shock anymore. All energy suppliers now have monthly payment plans with names like Equaliser and Level Pay that allow customers to spread the cost of gas and electricity evenly throughout the year.
To set up a payment plan, all you need is for your account to be up to date and to pay by direct debit. Your supplier will work out how much your gas or electricity is likely to cost in the coming year, divvy it up into 12 equal payments, and bill you monthly by direct debit. It means that instead of getting huge winter gas bills when funds are at their lowest, you could be paying a flat of €75 (for example) every month. Just like paying for your TV or broadband, and a great idea for budgeting.
One for the New Year… your car insurance
There are nearly two million cars on the road, we’re all supposed to have insurance, and most of us pay for it at the start of the year. So wouldn’t it be nice if we could pay a little less? Well, your renewal letter is the key to getting a better deal. Before your insurance automatically renews, pick up the phone. Use the price on your renewal letter as the starting point, call three other insurers or brokers and get quotes from them all. Don’t be afraid to tell them you need to beat your current quote.
When you have the best quote, call your own insurance company and ask them to beat it. And if they can’t… switch. A quick and easy way to save a few quid.
And while we’re on insurance… your home insurance and mortgage protection
If you own your home or you’ve got a mortgage, you’re probably paying for home insurance or mortgage protection. And it could very well be the insurance that your bank sold to you when you took out your loan. You bank wasn’t doing you any favours though… and they certainly weren’t shopping around to find you the best deal either. They were just looking to make a few extra quid from you.
The good news is that even if your lender requires you to have insurance, you don’t have to keep theirs, and most of us can save a few bob by shopping around. You don’t even have to do all that ringing around yourself. Companies like SmartQuotes.ie (1890 98 98 97) and Chill.ie (1890 30 23 23) work with loads of insurers and reckon they can save you hundreds with a single call...
...And they did for me. I just did this and more than halved the cost of life insurance and rebuild insurance that I've been paying for years. I wish I'd known about this one sooner.
Paying less for your energy
Yup, we keep going on about it, but that's because 60% of us have never changed and are still paying very spendy standard rates.And of course, energy costs are going through the roof - prices went up again in October. Average households with gas and electricity are now paying well over €2,100 a year just to keep the lights on and stay warm. You don’t have to pay top price though, but you’ll need to stay on top of your bills by reviewing them once a year and switching when necessary.
Why? Well even if you have already switched, discounts typically last for just one year – and then you’re back to paying full price on expensive standard rates. So there are two things you can do. Ask your current supplier for a new discount when you current one runs out, or switch to a better deal with another suppler. The difference between standard rates and the best discounts is more than €250 a year. Or €21 extra in your pocket every month! And since we use most of our energy in the winter, the time to get those bills down is now. All gas and electricity deals can be compared on bonkers.ie.
Your broadband, TV and phone
It’s usually cheaper to bundle. If you have DSL, (that’s phone line based broadband) you’re phone line has to be turned on to make it work - that used to mean line rental. It doesn’t have to anymore though. Now you can get the line, the broadband and even some calls for as little as €40 per month.
If you are in a UPC area, you can get broadband, TV and phone for as little as €69 a month. And there’s a great rumour for Sky customers that we hope comes true for the New Year… You may soon be able to bundle your TV, broadband and home phone with Sky too! We don’t have prices yet, but expect a big splash when they launch. And the new competition might even drive bundle prices down further!