Prepare your home for the worst of winter – an Infographic (courtesy of AIG)

Hibernate Your Home - An Infographic from AIG

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Interested in helping create a SayNoTo1890 smartphone app?

If you’re interested in helping out in a project to create a SayNoTo1890 smartphone app in early 2015, please read more here.

Designing an appropriate SayNoTo1890 smartphone app will make it much easier to dial the geographic alternatives for the 1890, 1850 and 0818 numbers, helping you save even more money. It will also facilitate the sharing of information to gather even more geographic alternatives as well as ensure those numbers are always as up to date as possible.

It’s been something I’ve been thinking about for a while now, and a smartphone app for the SayNoTo1890.com website is a regularly requested feature from the users of the website.

This detailed blog post over on the SayNoTo1890.com website explains how I’d like to go about building this smartphone app, and what assistance I’d like to get and will need to get the app built, hopefully early in 2015.

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SayNoTo1890.com is Now Available Again

If you’ve arrived here looking for the SayNoTo1890.com website, please note that because the site was hacked on Saturday, November 22nd, the site and numbers are temporarily available. I’m currently waiting for some technical support in order to be able to rebuild the site.

Given it’s the weekend, I’m afraid I probably won’t be able to get the site rebuilt now before Monday evening.

You can keep up to date on what’s happening through the @SayNoTo1890 Twitter feed. Or you can check back here later as well where I’ll provide updates as well.

UPDATE: Sunday November 23rdSayNoTo1890.com is now back up and running again. There are some recent updates missing, but the majority of the site is now there again.

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This Weeks Grocery Special Offers

Click on the icons below to find out the current special offers for all these chains:

These links are as up to date as I can make them. If you notice any broken links, or have any suggestions on any other pages that should be added here, please let me know here.

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Dunnes Stores is the most popular link from the Grocery Special Offers page

I was looValueIreland Grocery Special Offers Pageking at the website stats for this site on the excellent StatCounter website recently, and particularly the listing of the most popular links that visitors follow to go to other sites. It’s no surprise that most of the links that people use are from the ValueIreland Grocery Special Offers page.

What was surprising though, was the fact that the Dunnes Stores link was three times more popular than either of the next stores on the list – Tesco and Lidl. In fact, the numbers selecting the Dunnes Stores link outnumbered those selecting Tesco, Lidl and Aldi put together.

This differs from the market breakdown for the supermarkets in Ireland where as of the end of September, Tesco was still the most popular, marginally ahead of the SuperValu / SuperQuinn combo which didn’t make the top 5 exit links.

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Why are the National Consumer Agency paying for Adwords like this?

This is a little old, but it seems like a complete waste of money to me.

Why are the NCA paying for Adwords like this?

Just to clarify, the linked website there, consumerhelp.ie, is one of many websites that belongs to the National Consumer Agency.

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The “new” HMV is honouring vouchers from the “old” HMV. What should you do next?

Run, as fast as you can, into your nearest HMV and spend them all. Get rid of them as quickly as you can. If you still have HMV vouchers, you’re extremely lucky that the new HMV are doing this – they’re not obliged to do this at all.

Though, one wonders if there isn’t all that many vouchers outstanding that haven’t been ripped up. It’s a nice gesture, but businesses don’t normally go for nice gestures if it’s likely to cost them a lot of money. I haven’t seen any of the newspaper coverage of this story actually ask the question as to what value of vouchers is outstanding.

Anyway, what should you do now?

  1. Spend any vouchers that you have as soon as you possibly can
  2. Search your house high and low for any other vouchers you have, gather them all together and spend them as well
  3. Learn your lesson from the HMV debacle and don’t buy any more vouchers – for yourself or for anyone else – and if you do receive vouchers as gifts, spend them as soon as you get them

Vouchers are evil – particularly so these days given the perilous state of many businesses, so you could lose your money. They’re also a really lazy present and could cause the recipient of your present to lose out as well.

Finally, click here to read plenty more reasons why vouchers are so evil and should be avoided.

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B.B. King – Recession Blues

I was going through my music collection recently putting together some party playlists. This, B.B. King – Recession Blues – didn’t get added.

 

Since this recession I’m losing my baby
Because the times are getting so hard
Yes, since this recession I’m losing my baby
Because the times are getting so hard
Yes, I have to stop running around
Man, you know it’s breaking my heart

Yes, I can’t afford no liquor
All I can buy is beer and wine
Yes, I can’t afford no liquor people
All I can buy is beer and wine
Well I can get my baby what she wants
And she stays cross all the time, yes help me

Yes, please somebody,
Please go out to Washington for me
Yes, please, please somebody
Please go out to Washington for me
Yes, think about us out here
Help me get out of this misery

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Bankers Are Just Like Anybody Else, Except Richer

The death of Seamus Heaney prompted an office discussion last week about poetry, who reads it now, and what we can remember from our school days. For most of us, Heaney hadn’t yet been added to the curriculum when we were learning our Yeats, Wordsworth and Shakespears sonnets.

A few Heaney poems were Googled and read, including the particularly striking “Mid-Term Break“. Out of nowhere though, someone threw Ogden Nash into the mix. Given we work in financial services, a vague memory of a relevant poem by Nash was eventually discovered via Google.

The poem below, originally  published in The New Yorker magazine in December, 1935 reads as if it could have been written yesterday.

 

This is a song to celebrate banks,
Because they are full of money and you go into them and all
you hear is clinks and clanks,
Or maybe a sound like the wind in the trees on the hills,
Which is the rustling of the thousand dollar bills.
Most bankers dwell in marble halls,
Which they get to dwell in because they encourage deposits
and discourage withdrawals,
And particularly because they all observe one rule which woe
betides the banker who fails to heed it,
Which is you must never lend any money to anybody unless
they don’t need it.
I know you, you cautious conservative banks!
If people are worried about their rent it is your duty to deny
them the loan of one nickel, yes, even one copper engraving
of the martyred son of the late Nancy Hanks;
Yes, if they request fifty dollars to pay for a baby you must
look at them like Tarzan looking at an uppity ape in the
jungle,
And tell them what do they think a bank is, anyhow, they had
better go get the money from their wife’s aunt or ungle.
But suppose people come in and they have a million and they
want another million to pile on top of it,
Why, you brim with the milk of human kindness and you
urge them to accept every drop of it,
And you lend them the million so then they have two million
and this gives them the idea that they would be better off
with four,
So they already have two million as security so you have no
hesitation in lending them two more,
And all the vice-presidents nod their heads in rhythm,
And the only question asked is do the borrowers want the
money sent or do they want to take it withm.
Because I think they deserve our appreciation and thanks,
the jackasses who go around saying that health and happi-
ness are everything and money isn’t essential,
Because as soon as they have to borrow some unimportant
money to maintain their health and happiness they starve
to death so they can’t go around any more sneering at good
old money, which is nothing short of providential.

Ogden Nash

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Pre-paying for your electricity is unlikely to save you money

We’re seeing a lot of advertising recently from suppliers of pre-pay, or pay-as-you-go electricity supply services. One of the advertising slogans used is “no more shocking bills” which to me seems to give the impression that might be saving money by switching.

To be fair to the companies involved, most of the advertising pitch is based around “control” – “Always in control – With Pinergy you are the boss”, and “Sign up to PrePayPower now and enjoy having total control over your electricity costs!”

Control costs, or control usage

Technically – none of us have, nor can our specific electricity provider provide us with, control over the costs we pay for electricity. We can choose our electricity provider to avail of the costs they charge for electricity, but once signed-up, we can’t control what they charge us.

However, when it comes to control of our electricity usage don’t we all have control over that already, no matter who our electricity provider is? We have that control whether we’re with Electric Ireland, Airtricity, Bord Gais Energy – never mind Pinergy or PrePayPower.

Just because we have to regularly load up a meter in our hallway, or pay a regular direct debit, the principles of how we use – or don’t use – electricity will always be the same. And how we control our usage of it as well.

Pre-pay Electricity is Expensive Electricity

Leaving aside the bogus “control” factor therefore, moving to a pre-pay electricity service provider, like for like with the regular providers, will cost you more. So, you’re paying extra to get “control” that you already have. Pointless!

Specifically, you pay 37.5c per day for the pre-pay meter that will be installed in your house. That’s an extra €136.87 per year added to cost of electricity. That you have no control over if you sign up to them.

That charge is on top of the electricity standing charge (€125 to €169 per year) that you pay no matter which electricity service provider you use, and on top of the Public Service Obligation Levy as well (€31.60 per year).

At the moment, you can have your pre-pay meter installed for free, but who’s to say that that won’t cost you either. And presumably, you’ll get stuff for any maintenance costs on the meters as well.

No savings on cost

And just to clarify, the pre-pay electricity service providers do not provide electricity at a cheaper rate than the standard ESB rating. Pinergy “guarantee to match the standard electricity tariffs of Electric Ireland”, while PrePayPower promise that “Our rates match Electric Ireland Standard Electricity Price Plan’s unit charge and standing charge”.

Both company websites are, in fact, so similar, I did have to a special to check that they were actually different companies.

You can’t shop around

And despite their similarities, because of the fact that you need a company specific meter installed, switching electricity suppliers to try to get a better deal becomes a lot more complicated.

Worth switching?

While I appreciate that certain consumers are living from day to day when it comes to their income and expenses, based on the information above, switching to a pre-pay electricity supplier doesn’t seem to be an answer. Yes, you can see your money being spent and used on a daily or weekly basis as opposed to monthly or bi-monthly, but given the way you’re charged, it seems to be a false economy.

  1. You pay more
  2. You don’t get any more control over your electricity usage
  3. It’s harder to switch electricity suppliers to get a better deal

What to do?

Firstly, as a simple change, if your regular bills are just too big, you could set up a weekly or monthly standing order to pay a fixed amount for your electricity instead of paying by direct debit. That’ll smooth out over a year – overpaying in the summer while underpaying during the winter.

Before taking the drastic move to a pre-pay electricity supplier, try to cut your own electricity bill – work on controlling your usage and see about switching to a cheaper supplier.

In these tougher economic times, I don’t see how switching to a more expensive service supplier can be the solution to cutting costs.

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