Fight your financial hangover

Captain CRUNCH – TOP TIPS TO HELP YOU SAVE IN 2015 by Aoife Finneran

Ah January, the month when we stare in shock at our bank balance and wonder how we got into so much debt.

With the average Irish shopper spending €600 on Christmas gifts, and the added costs of socialising and entertaining, it’s easy to notch up massive bills.

And while the New Year sees us all pledging to reduce our waistlines, it’s also the perfect month to start reducing our costs with some savvy planning.

So instead of staring mournfully at a tin of beans until pay day, now’s the time to tackle our financial New Year’s resolutions.

Implementing some clever changes will leave you with more money in your pocket and a chance to save for a rainy day.

Here are our top tips to save more cash in 2015.

Waste not want not

The average Irish household dumps up to €1,000 worth of unused food every year. So work out your meals carefully, make a menu plan and only buy the food you need. This could save you up to a €80 a month.

Raid the cupboards

With three weeks to payday, it’s easy to avoid doing a big grocery shop. Clear out your cupboards and find imaginative ways to use up all those bags of pasta, rice, tinned goods and frozen veg. not only will you save money, it’s also an ideal way to tidy out your kitchen.

Cut-price substitutes

Take stock of your weekly shop and identify the most expensive items on your list. Switch them for the own-brand alternatives in any supermarket and you’ll soon see the savings adding up. Do the same for medicines and painkillers, they do the same job and cost a lot less.

Drop the dial

Setting your heating to 1 degree lower than normal won’t make any noticeable difference to the warmth of your home but it could save you €80 a year.

Pack it up

If you haven’t learned to love your lunchbox, start now. Buying your lunch every day is an expensive, unnecessary habit. If timing is an issue, prep some cooked lunches on Sunday, freeze them in individual portions and defrost one each evening. And ditch that daily coffee run. Invest in a coffee plunger and enjoy some tasty brews in the office. You’ll find yourself saving €200 a month.

Freeze your own

Don’t be tempted to splurge on takeaways. They’re expensive, unhealthy and never as tasty as the meals you can whip up at home in half the time. Take advantage of a quiet weekend to batch cook some curry, soup or lasagne. They freeze well and can be easily defrosted the next time the urge for a takeaway strikes.

Get gifts in advance

If you have a number of weddings and birthdays this year, consider shopping for gifts right now. Your money will go further in the sales and you can get better value deals which the recipient will really appreciate. Look for jewellery, homewares and classic items like cutlery sets and glasses on special offer.

Bank on it

Consider switching banks to avail of cheaper fees. Visit the National Consumer Agency website for help in comparing financial products. Do the same for gas, electricity and mortgage prices by checking out www.bonkers.ie. You could save several hundred euro with a few smart switches.

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