Image How to beat rising inflation
Image Daragh Cassidy
Head Writer

As the economy recovers post-pandemic, Irish consumers have been hit with ever-increasing costs for goods and services. Here we outline the simple steps you can take to beat inflation this winter. 

Inflationary pressures are definitely building up in the Irish economy.

Inflation at 5.1% is already at its highest level in almost 15 years and is likely to go even higher over the coming months. 

It’s mainly being driven by Brexit-related factors and supply chain bottlenecks due to Covid. 

These should hopefully prove only temporary – indeed the longer-term inflation outlook is still quite muted – but in the short to medium term prices are only going one way – up.

So how can you beat the rising cost of living this winter?

1. Substitute for cheaper alternatives  

Irish households spend way more on branded groceries than most of our European neighbours. Non-branded alternatives are usually almost just as good and can be a fraction of the price. 

And when it comes to fresh food and drink in particular, like steak, pasta, milk, chicken, pork, bread, eggs and bacon, the produce has often come from the exact same farm or factory, meaning you’re literally just paying extra for the label.

People will usually have their few things that they’ll NEVER substitute, which is fine (personally I wouldn't let anything less than a Gillette razor near my skin!) but ask yourself if every second item in your basket needs to be branded?

2. Shop better 

Supermarkets have lots of cunning little tricks that they use to make you spend more. 

A well-known one is that the products which make them the most profit (and are usually therefore the most expensive) are placed mid-shelf in your line of sight. Easy to see and reach. 

The cheaper products are often top shelf or bottom shelf. Harder to reach.

Meanwhile all your staple items such as cheese, milk, bread and cereal are often in completely opposite corners of the shop, forcing you to wander around more aisles and spend more money.

And similar to Vegas casinos, most big supermarkets don’t have windows either - as they don’t want you to notice the passage of time. 

So if you want to spend less, the best thing to do is to make a list, stick to it, and don’t be afraid to seek out items further from reach. 

3. Compare the price per unit - not just the price

Buying in bulk is usually better value, right?

Wrong. 

Quite often it can be cheaper to buy items of fruit and veg separately. 

Meanwhile, the 24-pod detergent that you like can sometimes be more expensive, pod for pod, than the 12-pack one.  

What’s more, supermarkets constantly run special offers, meaning that the fresh orange juice you like with your morning breakfast can sometimes be cheaper to buy in one litre rather than two litres. 

So how do you know what represents the best value? 

Simple - compare prices based on unit price or price per unit of measurement. In other words, compare prices based on the price per kilogramme, per pod, or per millilitre etc. 

This might seem complicated to work out. But thankfully, under EU rules, the unit price (price per unit of measurement) must be clearly displayed in shops on barcodes beside the actual price. Though it’s amazing how many people either don’t know this or don’t see it. 

So by looking at this you can determine what represents the best value and ensure you’re not overpaying or being fooled by gimmicky offers.

4. Get acquainted with your local butcher, green grocer, florist and pharmacy etc

Supermarkets are great for convenience - but they're not always great for price. 

Quite often it's cheaper to get your meat, vegetables or beauty products in the local butcher, greengrocer or pharmacy down the road.

What's more, the quality of the food will often be better than what you'll find in a major chain supermarket and you'll be supporting your local highstreet too. A real win-win. 

5. Switch energy provider 

Since the start of the year there have been over 35 energy price hike announcements from all the suppliers in the Irish market.  

On average, this means households are looking at paying around €700 or €800 a year more for their energy. But some are looking at paying well over €1,000 a year extra.

The recent price increases may have gone unnoticed. But make no mistake, as we move in the darker months and households start to receive their winter bills, you're in for a huge shock.   

If you’re concerned about rising energy prices then the only way to beat them is to switch supplier.

Despite the rising prices, there is still huge competition among all the energy suppliers in Ireland for new customers right now and they’re all offering huge discounts to those who switch. For example, the average switcher could save around €500 a year just by changing supplier which help offset the price hikes. 

It’s quick and easy to switch and it can all be done online in the space of a few minutes on bonkers.ie. You can learn about what you need to switch energy suppliers in this guide.

There are also numerous simple steps you can take at home to reduce energy consumption and save on your bills. Here are 15 ways to use less electricity and save money and 10 ways to heat your home for less.

6. Avail of reward schemes 

Following on from supermarkets and energy companies, another way to get more bang for your buck in a world of rising prices is to check out some suppliers' reward schemes. 

For example Bord Gáis Energy has a partnership with Tesco while Electric Ireland has one with SuperValu, which both allow you to use your supermarket vouchers to pay money off your energy bills. 

However the savings usually double up, with a €5 voucher knocking a tenner off your energy bill and a €10 voucher knocking €20 off for example.

So while you might be tempted to spend your vouchers on your next trip to the supermarket, you’re better holding on to them and then using them to pay your energy bill when it arrives instead.

7. Get up-to-speed on cashback deals

If you’re a customer of Revolut (and who isn’t these days) then check out its rewards scheme, which offers cashback on a range of decent brands.

Many people still only use Revolut for when they travel abroad or for transferring money to friends and family. 

But if you use your account for your day-to-day spending you can get money back on purchases with Tesco, JustEat, Dominos, Nike, Apple and more.

Every little helps, to borrow a phrase... 

8. Move to a SIM-only mobile deal 

If you're looking to save some money on your phone bills a good option is to look into SIM-only deals, which have exploded in popularity over the past few years,

A SIM-only plan is, quite literally, when you purchase just a SIM card, which comes with an allocation of data, texts and minutes per month.

SIM-only plans are generally much, much cheaper than billpay plans because you don't incur the cost of buying a phone.

SIM-only deals are now available from all the main mobile providers and some operators such as GoMo and 48 focus solely on these deals. 

So if you're out of contract and don't need an upgrade just yet, you should definitely check them out.

48 has a deal right now that offers unlimited calls and texts and 100GB of data for just €10.99 a month. Virgin Mobile has a similar offer for just €10 a month for 12 months. 

Check out some of the best SIM-only deals in this blog, or listen to our podcast episode where we take a closer look at the SIM-only deals available in Ireland.

9. Switch your mortgage 

Managing and running a household isn’t cheap and according to Eurostat, Irish household costs are a staggering 82% above the EU average.  

Part of this comes down to high rental costs here and high mortgage rates.

The average new mortgage rate in Ireland in September was 2.72% - over double the EU average. However many existing mortgage holders could be paying rates as high as 4% or more. 

Yet rates as low as 1.95% are now available to those who switch.

For example, right now if you’re paying an interest rate of 4% and have €250,000 and 20 years remaining on your mortgage, you could save just over €226 a month if you switched to AIB's 2.20% fixed rate over four years! What’s more, AIB will pay you €2,000 cashback to entice you to switch.

So that's almost €5,000 in just one year for switching or almost €13,000 over the four-year period. Plenty to help you offset the rising cost of living!

If you’re already with AIB, don’t worry, as there are great rates on offer from all the other lenders too such as Avant Money's 2.20% fixed rate over three or five years, and Finance Ireland's five-year fixed rate of 2.35%.     

These rates are all based on someone with at least 20% equity in their home. Those with equity of 40% or more can save even more and get rates as low as 1.95%.

Interested in switching your mortgage? See exactly how much you could save with our easy-to-use mortgage calculator and take a look at our ​​guide on how to switch your mortgage.

10. Get a bike 

Petrol and diesel costs are at near record levels and with the carbon tax set to almost triple over the coming years, no reprieve is in sight for hard-pressed motorists. 

And although it may seem like an extreme decision, getting rid of your car, or at least using it less, and choosing to cycle instead, could save you a small fortune, and mean you can worry less about the rising cost of fuel.

And getting a bike has never been cheaper. 

Under the Government’s Cycle-to-Work Scheme, launched in 2014, your employer can pay for bicycles and bicycle equipment for you which you pay back through your salary over a period of up to 12 months. You then don't have to pay any income tax, PRSI or the Universal Social Charge on your repayments.

There is a limit of €1,250 per bicycle purchased (increased from €1,000 in August 2020) and €1,500 for electric bikes and the purchase can be made in any bike shop.

So if you're a higher-rate taxpayer and you purchase a new bike for €1,000, it'll only cost you just over €500, spread out over 12 interest-free monthly payments.

Us Irish are wedded to our cars but when you add up the cost of your car loan, tax, insurance, NCT, petrol and repairs, you can end up spending hundreds a month for the convenience of having one. 

And while those living in rural areas or with young families might feel like a car is absolutely essential, in places like Dublin where there are far more transport options, there's less of a need.    

11. Haggle

Us Irish aren’t the best at haggling or negotiating prices.

And while you’re hardly going to go into your local Tesco or pub and haggle over the price of milk or a pint of beer, there are industries where haggling is acceptable – indeed almost expected.

Whether it’s a second-hand car, a new laptop, home repairs, or a new sofa, always check when buying a big-ticket item if there’s any room for negotiation. The worst they can say is no.

Quite often a discount might be available if you pay in cash.

Either way, just makes sure you’re chatting to the right person as it’s usually only more senior sales assistants who are in a position to negotiate on price.  

Start saving on your household bills today

We mentioned above that you can switch energy suppliers right here on bonkers.ie, but did you know that you can also save on a variety of other household bills too?

Make sure you review other bills too and compare available deals for services such as broadband, insurance and banking products to see how much more you could save!

We’ve compiled a list of helpful articles that will provide you with more information on how to save on your everyday costs:

Make sure you stay up to date with our blogs and guides pages for more top saving tips.

Get in touch

Do you have any other ideas on how to beat rising inflation? Let us know in the comments below or get in touch with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.