Happy New Year!
Welcome to the first blog for 2022 from MABS. We hope that you kept safe and healthy over the festive season.
Typically, we start the new year with good intentions. Committing to new year’s resolutions of things we want to do, new habits we want to make and general hope for the year ahead. Rising energy costs and general uncertainty can dampen your optimism but that doesn’t mean that you can’t set yourself some manageable goals for the year ahead.
We’ve pulled together 5 useful tips to get you started on planning your spending (and saving) for the year ahead.
Make a Budget
With the ongoing uncertainty, many people are currently managing their households on reduced incomes or increased expenses and wondering what the future holds. Now is the time to take control of what you can.
Start by making a budget. There is a list of resources at the bottom of this blog to help you get started. Take a pen and paper, gather up or open your bank statements online along with any social welfare payment receipts or payslips. Make a line down the page, and on one side, put any income (and dates if you have them). On the other side of the page, write a list of all your bills and spending, add up the columns and take away the outgoings from the income.
Good starting point!
Now you have a basic snapshot of the amount of money coming in and money going out. This is a good starting point. You can see if it is possible to increase the money coming in or reduce the money going out. Move on to the next step for more information. Or use some of the resources at the end of this blog. Check back over the next few weeks to get the full lowdown on how to manage your money like a pro.
Maximising your income
Rights and Entitlements
Take a bit of time when looking at your entitlements – you may miss something you have a right to. For example, are you a Carer for someone? If you are on Carer’s Allowance, you may also be entitled to the Household Benefits package, Carers Support Grant and free travel. This is just one example of how you can begin to explore any additional supports linked to specific social welfare payments.
If you’ve never signed up for an account on Revenue, now is the time. You can claim back 20% of the medical expenses you’ve had over the past four years. If you have an account already, then the new year is an opportunity to submit those receipts.
You can now do this in real-time too so if you’re going to see the doctor, you can upload your receipt the same day and see the credit applied on your next pay packet.
Income Tax Credits – Working from Home
Suppose you’ve been working from home during 2021. In that case, you might be entitled to claim some of the heating, electricity, and broadband cost back if your employer didn’t cover these costs. An employee who works from home can claim tax relief to cover the additional expenses, such as heating and electricity. Revenue allows an employer to make payments up to €3.20 per day to employees who satisfy the conditions for the relief without deducting PAYE, PRSI, or USC. Any payment by your employer of more than this figure will be taxable.
Income Tax Credits
If you and your partner are jointly assessed, and one of you is not working at the moment or have decided to stay at home, you could transfer the credits for 2022, raising your standard cut-off point for income tax.
Shop around to make your money go further
Compare prices for food, gas, electricity, phone and internet. Contact your provider and ask what they are offering. If you don’t ask, you won’t know. Websites, such as, Bonkers.ie offer cost comparisons which can help you decide. We’ve also got how-to guides on how to switch and save:
It’s not just your utility bills you could be saving on. Pull all your annual statements together and note the renewal dates on your calendar, planner or set a reminder on your phone. You will then know when to shop around and save more money.
Here’s a few annual bills that are worth checking if you can save on:
- Motor Insurance
- Health Insurance
- Home & Contents Insurance
While it’s not a utility bill, it can be a big bill that comes out every month – your mortgage! If you’re not in a fixed-rate term, you could make massive savings both monthly and annually on your mortgage repayments by switching to a lower interest rate. You may not even need to switch your mortgage to another bank. A call to your bank might be all it needs. Check out Bonkers.ie to compare mortgage rates.
Start a Rainy-Day Fund
You’ve likely heard this phrase since you were five years old, but how many of us have the money to buy a new washing machine if it breaks? Many of us would struggle to pay for something like a new washing machine without using a credit card, savings or asking a friend/family member to tide you over until next month.
So, if you’re able to save, even just a little bit, it all adds up: €20 a week is over €1,000 in a year. Having a regular saving habit and watching your money grow is a great incentive not to spend it unless you absolutely need to.
Remember that it’s not all about saving.
Getting yourself a treat now and again will help you avoid what we call “budgeting fatigue“. This is when you’re so focused on budgeting and saving that you become fed up and end up spending on something you’ll later regret.
If you need a few things and have the money to hand, focus on the things you need rather than just a want. Make sure you are getting value for your money and not just buying for the sake of it. The money you save by resisting the temptation or by only buying what you need can go into your rainy-day fund.
Get advice if you’re worried
Help is available. If you would like help with budgeting or some tips on spending, advisers from MABS are available by phone on our National Helpline on 0818 07 2000 from 9am to 8pm Monday to Friday. Or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org to answer any personal money and debt questions you might have. MABS is open and ready to provide the full range of money, debt and budgeting support.
You can call the MABS National Helpline on 0818 07 2000 Monday to Friday, from 9am to 8pm, WhatsApp 086 035 3141 or find the contact details for your local office.
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