Overspent Boost Your Disposable Income

Kevin Dunne, from Portarlington, in Co Laois, is a single father with two children who relies on social welfare. He has a monthly household income of €1,763, which includes rent allowance and children's allowance.

He pays €500 a month in rent and spends €80 on his main grocery shop, to which he adds another €30 for "getting small bits on other days".

His prepays €100 a month for electricity and spends €78.33 on satellite TV and broadband; another €55 goes on his mobile phone. Solid fuel costs €60 in the winter months, and he spends €80 a week on heating oil, again in the winter months.

As he is out of work he has no childcare costs, but he puts the monthly cost of education at €40 most of which he paid at the start of September.

Dunne spends a further €100 on petrol each month, plus €70 on insurance. Between himself and his two children he spends €30 a month on clothes and €100 on socialising.

He is also paying back €40 on a credit-union loan of €39,000 and €24 a month on lrish-dancing lessons for his daughter. He puts the cost of Christmas at €1,000 and his children's birthdays at €500 a year or €125 a month over the year. He also spends €120 a month on cigarettes.

His monthly outgoings total €1,962, meaning that he goes ever further into the red. Dunne was working in the motor trade until he got sole custody of his children; then he had to give up the job, because, he says, he "couldn't juggle everything".

"I spend €25 a week on electricity, which I get through a meter, and lean only afford to buy home heating oil week to week. I use it to heat the house for 45 minutes in the morning and 45 in the evening, before the kids go to bed," he says.

"My landlord is very good, and l pay around €150 less in rent than the going rate. I just use the car forthe school runs. The kids go to schools on opposite sides of the town, so walking them isn't an option.

"I might go out once a month, and that will cost around €40. I do all my shopping in Aldi, and maybe once a month we will get a take away pizza. There is a Centra five minutes' walk away, and I do my top-up shop there. I get my social welfare on a Thursday, and by that evening 80 per cent of it is gone."



Dunne could make the fastest- if not the easiest-saving on cigarettes. He says he is building up to quitting. He can't do it soon enough: outside of the health ramifications, he's spending nearly €1,500 year on them.

"I would be looking at the €30 he is spending on the day-to-day purchases in the shop," says the foodblogger Catriona Redmond. "Kevin needs to write down everything he buys, and exactly when he buys it, for two or three weeks.togetasenseofhis shopping patterns. Then heneeds to change how he stores things like milk and bread. Bread freeze perfectly well He needs to cut out the visits there."

Were he to do that he could probably add €10 a week to his big shop but save €80 a month. "

It seems to me that €100 a month on prepaid electricity is very expensive. That's €1,200 a year compared to the €720 which is on offer from Energia," says David Kerr of bonkers.ie. "Prepaid is the most expensive option; it works for some people, but it is not cheap."

If he could come to a better arrangement on electricity he could save about €30 a month. Add that to his potential savings on shopping and cigarettes and he could be €230a month better off-which could just stop him going into the red.

Given that Dunne can't afford health insurance and doesn't own his home, there is little by way of concrete advice that mortgage broker Karl Deeter can offer. "Sometimes the only thing people can try and do is develop alternative income streams,so if this man has any skills that can be utilised then he needs to explore them."

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