Image How to beat rising inflation
Image Daragh Cassidy
Head Writer

Irish consumers have been hit with ever-increasing prices for various goods and services over the past year. Here we outline the simple steps you can take to beat the rapidly rising cost of living. 

After years of muted inflation, prices for consumers in many sectors are shooting up.

At 9.1% in July, inflation is currently running at its highest level in 38 years, and it could go even higher over the coming months. 

It’s mainly being driven by rapidly rising energy costs and continuing supply chain bottlenecks due to Covid, which is affecting countries worldwide. Closer to home, Brexit-related factors are also having an impact. 

It was thought inflation would fall back quickly before the end of the year but it's now expected to remain high well into next year and maybe beyond.

So how can you beat the rising cost of living this year and next?

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. 

Finally, most supermarkets discount soon-to-go-off meat and fruit at the end of each day. So popping into your local store late in the evening and heading for the discounted section might get you some cheap food.  

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. Purchase from re-selling websites/apps 

Shopping on sites like Depop, eBay, and Refurbed.ie are an easy way to buy cheaper second-hand or refurbished goods.  

As well as saving some money you'll also be doing your bit for the environment. 

And if you're also looking to earn some money, you can sell your things on some of these sites as well.

Check out a recent episode of the bonkers.ie podcast where we chatted to Pádraig Power, Marketing Manager for Refurbed.ie in Ireland, an online marketplace for refurbished electronic devices such as phones, laptops, smartwatches and games consoles.

6. Switch energy provider 

In 2021 there were over 35 price hike announcements from all the energy suppliers in Ireland. And the trend has continued into this year with Bord Gáis Energy, Electric Ireland, Panda Power, SSE Airtricity and Flogas among some of the suppliers to have announced massive price hikes over the past few weeks. 

On average, this means households are looking at paying around €1,500 a year more for their gas and electricity than they were a year or so ago. But some are looking at paying over €2,000 a year extra!

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

Despite the rising prices, there is still competition among energy suppliers in Ireland for new customers right now and some are offering big discounts for an entire year to those who switch. For example, the average switcher could save around €800 a year just by changing supplier which would help offset some of the recent 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.

7. 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 which allows 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.

Tesco now limits many of its cut-price deals on household goods and groceries to its Clubcard members - so if you shop in Tesco regularly and don't have a Clubcard, consider getting one. 

8. 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... 

9. 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, texts and 200GB of data for just €12.99 a month. Virgin Mobile often runs a similar offer for just €5 a month for six 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.

10. Cut back on streaming services

With streaming services becoming ever more expensive - and numerous - it's a good idea to look at what you've signed up to and see if you can cut back.

A handy tip to remember is that there are no sign-up fees to any of the streaming services in Ireland. So if you don't think you'll be watching anything for a while, just cancel your subscription and save some money. You can then resubscribe a few weeks or months later when a new show piques your interest. With most of the providers, your account data and viewing history will remain intact for at least a year.   

11. Play 'hard to get'

On some sites if you visit and then leave without making a purchase, especially if you went so far as to put something into your shopping cart, you'll receive a follow-up email a few days later with a discount code to encourage you to complete your purchase. 

So if you're not in a rush to buy something, just abandon your shopping cart, and see if a site tries to court your business with some incentives a few days later! 

Just make sure you have an account with the site in question and log in so they know how to contact you.

12. Buy more energy-efficient appliances

With electricity prices at record levels, buying more energy-efficient appliances is one way to keep energy costs under control.

If it's time to replace the fridge, the washing machine, the tumble dryer, the dishwasher or the hoover, it's a good idea to look into the energy ratings. Most modern appliances are way more efficient than older models, but the rating will help you choose the most efficient model.

The ratings, which are compulsory and which have recently been rescaled, range from A to G, with A being the most efficient.

See here for more info on how to read and understand the energy ratings of appliances

13. Buy a coffee machine + reusable cup

If you’re the person who can’t wake up properly in the morning without a decent cup of Java, then this one is a bit of a no-brainer and you've probably head it before. 

All of those last-minute tap-and-go coffees that make you late for work add up! And the price of takeaway coffees, like everything else, is getting ever higher. 

By making yourself a to-go coffee in the morning and taking it in a reusable cup, you’ll not only be saving money, you’ll also be helping the environment by reducing the waste you produce.

And even if you don't want to invest in a coffee machine, buying a reusable cup is a good idea due to the upcoming 'Latte Levy' that will see 20 cent added to every disposable cup. So if you were to buy just one cup of coffee a day, you'd be looking at spending almost €75 extra a year on coffee cups as a result of the tax.  

14. 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 May was 2.73% - far above the eurozone average of 1.76%. However many existing mortgage holders could be paying rates as high as 4% or more. 

Yet rates as low as 1.90% 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 give you €2,000 cashback to entice you to switch.

So that's almost €5,000 saved 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 other lenders too such as Avant Money's 2.15% fixed rate over three or four 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% with Avant.

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.

15. 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.    

16. 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 make 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.  

17. Rent instead of buy

We always think of rent as 'dead money', especially when it comes to housing. But that's definitely not the case when it comes to other goods and services. 

Think about renting a wedding dress, debs dress, evening dress or tux for an upcoming special occasion instead of buying one. Especially if you think you're only going to use or wear the item once or twice. 

And if you think renting clothes is a bit gauche, think again. Brown Thomas recently launched a designer dress rental programme. While its Full Circle scheme allows you to trade in your old handbags for store vouchers.

18. Drive better

With the price of petrol and diesel at record levels, looks at ways to conserve fuel by driving more efficiently.

Keeping your tyres properly inflated, driving more consistently, cleaning out your car, and rotating your tyres regularly are all simple ways to save a bit on your driving costs.

See here for more info on how to save while driving.

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 we can save you money on a variety of other household bills too?

Whether it's broadband, home insurance, or banking fees, we can help you save on lots of everyday bills. 

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

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.