With thanks to, and courtesy of, Roisin Shortall, Labour TD and spokesperson on on Social and Family Affairs. This is the 14th in our series of Top Tips for Irish Consumers.
- Know your rights – from my day to day work, it is astounding how many people don’t claim basic entitlements. Perhaps the four most common ones I have come across are tax relief on medical expenses, family income supplement, the entitlement of over 65s who are tax exempt to a waiver of their local authority bin charge (depending on where they live), and the respite grant for Carers (which is not means tested). In particular, on medical expenses, I would say it’s very important to have a jar/box at home to put your receipts into – otherwise you will lose/forget about them.
- Complain and compliment – if you have a reasonable case, then exhaust all angles before you accept a “no”. Even if it doesn’t help your individual case, it should help the next guy. Equally, make sure to tell someone if you are happy with something. As a public representative, negative and positive comments from the public are invaluable to how you adapt your “service”.
- Shop Around – So many of us are time-poor but if you can afford the time, shopping around is the most basic way of saving money.
- Check the fine print – I’ve found on car insurance, for instance, that there are add-ons that I don’t really need and this helps reduce the overall bill. Similarly on home insurance, premia are generally increased each year in line with inflation or building inflation. I have found in some cases that these can be inflated beyond the true cost of rebuilding the home.
- Never buy anything from a door-to-door salesperson – I have come across countless cases such as gardening service, gutter repairs, and new driveways where thousands were handed over in advance and the job was never finished. Never accept a service from someone who can only give you a mobile number.
- Good Accounting – It’s amazing what you find out about yourself when you actually do detailed accounts of your income and spending. It’s worth trying it for a few months just to see where all your money is going. You’ll never buy a takeaway again.
- Overpay your mortgage – If you are in a position to do this, it takes years off your loan period and hundreds off your monthly payment. Now that interest rates are falling, it’s a particularly good time to do it.
- Composting and general recycling – It saves money on waste charges and is great for the environment
- Plan your meals – Freeze what you don’t serve for quick meals later in the week. It also saves on the amount of food thrown in the bin.
- Grow your own veg – You don’t have to have a big garden to grow your own veg. With a little dedication, it’s quite easy to grow basic veg and children really enjoy it.
The complete series listing of Top Tips for Irish Consumers is now available here.