How to take control of your bills - Newstalk

Image audioImage How to take control of your bills - Newstalk

Head of Communications at bonkers.ie, Daragh Cassidy spoke with Pat Kenny on Newstalk regarding the high cost of living in Ireland. They discussed how an average family in Ireland could cut the costs of their household expenses across a range of bills such as their mortgage and energy bills on bonkers.ie 

Switch to pay a lower rate on your mortgage

For most people, their mortgage is going to be their largest outgoing expense each month. I can’t emphasise enough how everyone should switch their mortgage lender at least once during the term of their mortgage. According to the Banking and Payments Federation, 7,000 people in Ireland switched their mortgage provider last year. 

There are huge savings to be made by switching. For example, if you are paying an interest rate of 4% on your mortgage, and have 250,000 and 20 years remaining on your mortgage. You could save €225-€226 per month by moving to a 2.2% fixed rate.

At the moment, AIB has a 2.2% fixed rate over 4 years as well as providing €2,000 cashback incentive to help pay the legal fee costs needed to make the switch. 

However, if you are not with AIB, there are other lenders such as Avant Money, which is offering an even lower interest rate at 2.15%

What requirements are needed to switch mortgage provider? 

The legal costs needed to switch mortgage providers can range from €1,000-1,300. It is a little bit less if you’re getting a mortgage as a first-time buyer as there are certain fees you don't have to encounter. 

There are also a series of requirements you must meet in order to be eligible to switch, these include:  

  • Around €40,000 left on your mortgage 
  • Around 4-5 years remaining on your term
  • A good credit rating 
  • At least 10% equity in the home

If you don’t meet these requirements then the bank may not think it is worth their while to take on your mortgage. However, even if you do not think you meet this criteria we still encourage everyone to apply to switch mortgages at least once as you may be surprised.  

It should also be noted that currently there are no limitations on the number of times you can switch mortgages, we just wouldn’t suggest trying to switch every year as it does require some time and effort to make the move. 

Luckily, our new mortgage broker service on bonkers.ie is here to assist you when you’re making the switch. Our mortgage comparison tool will compare the best mortgage rates on the market and we can do the switch for you. 

Broadband, TV and phone 

There are big savings to be made in the broadband, phone and TV sector. This is because the networks are competing to attract new customers to their services, resulting in some excellent money-saving bundle deals. 

The average bundle is around 100 euro at the moment, but most providers have half-price deals, so you could save around 50 euro a month.

What deals are on the market?

Eir is currently offering 50 cashback to those who make the switch. Their broadband, TV and phone bundle is only 50 a month for 12 months. However, they have been known for their customer service issues. 

While Virgin Media has a deal that sees customers only paying 1 per month for 12 months for access to Sky Sports or Sky Cinema

Do you have to finish your contract before making the switch?

Yes, you do. If you choose to leave before your contract is finished you will be subjected to leaving costs/ cancellation fees. 

These costs will total the amount of money that is left on your contract, so if you leave your year-long contract after ten months, then you will be charged for the final two months left in the contract.

Switch and save on your energy costs 

When it comes to energy bills, many people are under the impression that suppliers won’t be able to raise their prices as they are locked into a price plan. However, this is not the case because most people are on a variable rate in Ireland, meaning suppliers can increase energy prices to align with the market. 

Unfortunately, gas and electricity prices have never been higher. There were 35 different  price hike announcements made by suppliers alone in 2021. These continuous price increases have left many people wondering is it worth their time switching energy suppliers if prices are rising across the board? 

The answer is: Yes, it is! In fact, I would go as far as to say that this is the one year you do not want to be overpaying on energy and should be switching. 

Thankfully, suppliers offer huge discounts to people who switch or sign up for their services for the first time. You could receive a discount of up to 40% by switching, meaning you could cut at least 500 off your annual bill. 

Switching energy providers is super quick and easy. It can be done through our comparison tool on bonkers.ie. We even have a guide on all the necessary documents you will need to make the switch. 

Find the best value current account

With the exit of Ulster Bank and KBC, a lot of people will be looking to find a new home for their current account. I would encourage people to look around for the best value current account on the market. This is because many accounts charge their holders for various transactions which people don’t realise.

For example, with Permanent TSB, you can get all your day to day banking for only 6 a month. They also offer cashback of up to 5 a month, which you get every time you use your card in-store or online, meaning the net cost for your account per month is only 1 euro.

If you are an AIB customer with average usage, you could save up to 70-80 if you switched to Permanent TSB. Although it may not seem like huge savings, everything adds up.

How can you save on your annual health insurance?

Private healthcare in Ireland can be quite costly. People tend to stay with their health insurance providers for a multitude of reasons.

  1. They have a misguided sense of loyalty to their insurer 
  2. They believe they will receive a higher level of care if they make a claim if they have been with them for a long time
  3. They are afraid they will be subjected to a waiting period if they move to a new provider 

Thankfully, these beliefs are untrue. By switching providers you will receive the same level of care as you did with your current providers, the only difference is you may be able to find a policy that is better catered to you at a better cost. 

However, with 300 different health insurance plans on the market, we understand that finding the right health package and provider can be a daunting task. It is a complicated process, I would encourage people to invest and say it does pay to get some financial advice from an expert. A health insurance expert will be able to go through all the plans with you, and ensure that you are getting the best value plan for you and your needs. 

Another option is to look into taking out a corporate plan. Many people believe they are not eligible for them, but they are and these corporate plans tend to be the best. For example, Google has an excellent corporate plan that anyone is able to sign up for. 

Lower your mobile bill

People often don’t realise they can cut the costs of their mobile phone bill. 

For instance, people who are on bill pay plans pay around 60-€70 per month for the first 18 months to 2 years. This is because you are paying for your data, calls, and texts as well as the cost of your phone. However, once that plan ends you should not be spending more than 20 a month on your phone bill.

If your 2-year contract ends, and you don’t need to buy a new phone just yet, you should start looking into availing of a SIM-only deal. SIM-only deals are excellent as you are only paying for the SIM card and they provide excellent packages on calls, texts and data usage. 

Unlimited Calls, texts, and data SIM-only offers: 

Take control of your finances 

Although the cost of living is expected to continue to rise over the next few months, it is possible to lower the costs of your household expenses by switching providers. 

You can use our various comparison tools to discover the best value discounted deals available across a range of energy, broadband, banking, mortgages, and insurance products. 

Top tips to save money

If you would like to reduce the cost of your bills even further, have a read of some of our helpful articles on the matter.

You can stay up to date with the latest saving tips by keeping an eye on our blogs and guides pages.

Get in touch

Have your household expenses put pressure on your finances? Let us know today, send us a message on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.